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Heat stress is a common occurrence in open pit mining operations. The heat can be caused by the heat radiating from dark surfaces, or the heat retained by various materials in the open-pit mine.
By conducting risk analyses in advance, it is feasible to avoid industrial accidents and the consequences of industrial accidents such as fatalities, physical impairments, and financial damage. If the risks of various occupational roles suffering various hazards are determined, workers’ risk of industrial accidents and occupational diseases may be reduced.
Open-pit mining hazards
Mining is a sector with a distinct structure from others. The complexity of the supply chain, as well as the diversity of natural conditions present throughout it, makes it susceptible to a number of hazards from start to finish.
The number of workplace accidents may rise as a result of these issues. As a result, identifying and assessing risks in the mining industry is becoming increasingly vital.
The two primary methods of production in the mining sector are open-pit mining and underground mining, with open-pit mining seeming to offer a more stable operational setting.
Open-pit mining, like all types of mineral extraction, comes with its own set of hazards. Slopes, water run-off, equipment, falls, manual tools, and dust are all potential hazards in this technique.
Incidents caused by moving mining equipment are often the result of a lack of adequate visibility, failure to establish effective communication between staff members on the job site, and operator fatigue. As a result, traffic management and job site communication protocols must be established.
Working at heights, working in confined places, lifting and mechanical handling are all examples of hazards that come from the work environment. Airborne pollutants, gases, noise, and hazardous chemicals are all examples of workplace hazards.
Heat stress in open mining conditions
When work is done in open mines, problems can arise when the temperature and humidity are abnormally high. There is also a hazard when employees are exposed to intense heat. Keep in mind that high temperatures and/or humidity might be present at the same time as protective clothing or a high work rate make things worse for workers.
Workers who are exposed in all or part of their duties to any of the above hazards and can’t be eradicated should be examined for safety. Employers are responsible for establishing any necessary controls to eliminate hazards or risks or to reduce them to the lowest feasible level.
How to deal with heat stress
- Workers who are relocated to new locations should be given time to adjust, particularly if their jobs are substantially changed.
- The evaluation of a thermal environment can include the dangers that working with hazardous chemicals in work settings may pose, such as when wearing protective clothing. This may lead to heat stress.
- In such a warm environment, respiratory protectors are less likely to be donned and are more uncomfortable.
- Consolidate, streamline, reduce the risks of potential hazards by repositioning workers to improve safety.
- Make sure that your team is assigned enough work to keep them productive, but not too much; otherwise, you may end up with employees burning the midnight oil.
- Reduce work intensity and increase rest periods.
Employers obligations to reduce heat stress
When assessing the hazards and risks, employers should utilize data from other similar businesses to compare against. Employers should also have their employees take measurements using a technically knowledgeable individual, with adequate calibrated equipment.
An employer may, for example, consult with the health service or an expert body about exposure standards. He should keep in mind that high temperatures have a negative influence on the quality of fine handiwork.
Control strategies for heat exposure in open mining
When heat stress is identified, employers should eliminate the need for work in such conditions or take steps to minimize the dangers of extreme heat.
If the assessment reveals that higher air temperatures cause detrimental circumstances, the firm should implement measures to lower air temperature, such as air cooling. If no other measures can reduce the hazard, workers should be equipped with PPE such as cooling vests.
Employers should exercise caution when creating ventilation systems in enclosed locations or places where work is being done. When fail-safe systems aren’t in place, there should be sufficient watch over employees at risk to ensure they can be extricated from the danger.
Employers should arrange a work–rest cycle for exposed workers who face a hazard related to the metabolic heat generated during labor and other means of eradicating the danger are infeasible. The rest interval will most likely be in an air-conditioned or chilly resting room.
The rest periods should be as directed by the appropriate authority and long enough for the employee to recuperate. Employers should ensure that the necessary mechanical aids are accessible to decrease workloads and that hot-weather activities are properly designed ergonomically to avoid physical strain.
Hydratation is basic
Employers should provide ample quantities of drinking water, with the appropriate electrolytes, and where necessary. Employees must understand the importance of drinking enough quantities of a suitable liquid and consuming sufficient amounts of salt and potassium, as well as other minerals lost through sweating.
Changing from high to low temperatures
Workers in hot climates should also be informed of the necessity of physical fitness for their work. When workers are required to move from a very hot workplace to one that is significantly colder, especially when they are exposed to a strong wind, extra caution should be used. The wind chill factor can cause flesh to rapidly cool if the worker is transferred from one extreme heat exposure zone (low ambient temperature) to another (high ambient temperature).
It is essential that the body’s core temperature not fall below 36°C (96.8°F). To prevent harm to extremities, adequate protection should be given.
First aid and immediate help
Employers should make sure that first-aid facilities and personnel knowledgeable about their usage are accessible. Workers should be adequately supervised to allow them to be removed from the hot environment if symptoms appear where a residual risk of heat stress exists even after all control methods have been implemented.
Workers who are exposed to heat, as well as their supervisory staff, should be educated on the signs of heat stress in themselves or others.
Everyone in the organization should be aware of the actions to take to avoid development and/or emergencies, as well as how to use rescue and first-aid measures.