Technologies Driving a Safety Revolution in Mining
We have a unique opportunity to revolutionize worker safety. Right now. Today.
Advancements in technology, network connectivity, data science and a changing perspective due to experiences in COVID-19 and user acceptance of wearable devices means that we can flip the switch on how we approach industrial safety.
Despite an enormous effort and a significant reduction in fatality rates, mining remains one of the most hazardous industries for workers. However, new technologies are starting a safety revolution, while simultaneously fueling the mining industry’s digital transformation. The advent of advanced data analytics, IoT, sensors, wearables, and AI are driving mining safety and helping maintain regulatory compliance. In addition, these technologies help mining organizations to become more proactive in managing daily operations and mitigating risks. Some key technologies driving change in this area are:
Instead of hard-wired pagers, IoT makes underground communication wireless, enables communication between workers, and enhances presence and proximity detection. These capabilities can enhance safety strategies and worker safety.
Robust Industrial IoT platforms enhance and transform conventional safety patterns by connecting the workplace. A connected workplace is a goldmine of data with potential to drive actionable data analytics and reporting. An IIoT platform can run customizable safety solutions, ensure data-processing and event/condition detection, notifications and alerts, data storage, analytics, and reporting, and identity and access management, etc. This information, applied correctly, can close crucial safety gaps.
A comprehensive platform extends safety beyond compliance and other lagging indicators. It enables real-time monitoring, and displays deployment sites with real-time location overlays of the users and devices. These insights help define better strategies and plans. With site-specific features displayed alongside real-time worker locations, IoT deployments ensure last-mile connectivity in challenging mining environments.
The mining industry needs more active and real-time insights. Having a comprehensive analytics engine is essential to improve worker safety and can enable both real-time and batch analytics.
Incident and safety analytics, reports from walk-paths and inspection plan adherence, contact-tracing for COVID-19, and geospatial/map-based visualization information all add to worker safety. In mining, heat maps are especially useful for composite sensory measurements.
With detailed analytics, mining companies can improve environmental safety and responsiveness during crises. Claims and incident analytics help with adjudication, risk-pricing enhancements, and fraud management. They also provide insights into pre-incident conditions, aiding prevention strategies for the future. In addition, ancillary data exposes other factors, making safety more proactive than reactive.
Smart wearables convert everyday objects into personal assistants that can transform mining safety. Powered by technologies that account for the nuances of the mining environment, wearable devices are transforming how data is gathered and how mining companies can visualize their workforce. These devices and sensors have to be ruggedized, ergonomically designed and unobtrusive, have ingress-protection for operation in real-world job-sites, as well as offer intrinsically safe variants for hazardous locations.
Smart hardhats can improve worker safety by providing sensor-based contextual awareness of the surroundings and improved communication capabilities. High-precision real-time positioning (RTLS) and proximity detection, comprehensive audio-visual telecommunications, peripheral and last-mile connectivity, and multiple wireless backhaul options, and hands-free operation can enhance worker safety in mines too.
With the right technology, smart hard hats can also enable high-precision, full-3D location tracking, making alerts and rescues better targeted. Smart tags can enhance location tracking and provide worker as well as equipment information.
These wearables can also enhance core safety features and make SOS alerts, fall detection, man-down, proximity detection and enhance the workers' situational awareness and improve emergency response.
Cloud, AI, and Machine Learning:
These are other technologies driving safety revolution in mining by upping data capabilities and providing context-relevant information to users at the point of work. All these technologies drive analytics, enable preventive maintenance, and assist in proactive identification of emerging issues. When coupled with wearables and sensors networks, these technologies help mining companies identify potential hotspots, safety anomalies, and calculate emerging trends.
Mining is an extremely dangerous industry. Safety must go beyond compliance and embed itself into the operations aspects of industrial mining organizations. It is not enough to just have safety equipment anymore. It is essential to have the right systems and technologies in place that eliminate unsafe behavior, close the safety gaps, and provide a good work environment with safety front and center.
Guardhat is pioneering end-to-end connected worker safety solutions for industrial workers. The company offers cutting-edge, wearable technology; a proprietary connected worker platform – unrivaled in its ability to ingest, manage and analyze unstructured data; easy to deploy monitoring and reporting software; and a growing ecosystem of partner integrations. With Guardhat, companies can monitor worker location, health and work environment to speed reaction time and help proactively solve safety challenges. Guardhat is headquartered in Detroit, Michigan and operates globally. The company holds 15 patents in real time location systems, wearable solution design and connected worker software. To see our systems in action, visit us at MINExpo in Las Vegas, Sept. 13-15, 2021 in the Caterpillar booth.