Real-time monitoring and GPS positioning offer the best solution for tracking your workers, responding to incidents and evaluating post-event responses.
Despite the last decade seeing a significant improvement in mining, oil and gas industries’ rates of injuries and safety performance, these still remains dangerous occupations. In 2015, 11 fatalities were recorded, with contractors and inexperienced workers over-represented in the statistics.
Safety on the site or rig remains a non-negotiable imperative. Safety incidents threaten not only lives and profitability but also the very existence of an operation. In difficult offshore locations where new sources of oil are being discovered, the potential risks are even greater.
Managers must implement measures to protect their workers, from a comprehensive safety plan through to competency evaluation, maintenance of equipment that is fit for purpose, and adequate supervision.
Real-time monitoring of personnel and equipment represents a highly effective way to address an emergency response in mining environments, by delivering increased safety, better emergency outcomes and providing valuable data for improved response processes and incident prevention.
Emergency management during an incident is still difficult for many mine sites, due in large part to the remoteness of sites and their workers.
The situation is exacerbated by a lack of real-time data available at the time of the incident. Many mine sites still do not monitor the location of all staff, so when an incident occurs, the location of the emergency or workers is not instantly apparent.
Often the location of onsite emergency responders is not immediately known either, further delaying a timely response. Typically in mining this means first responders (trained emergency personnel within the site), second responders (police, fire and/or ambulance), and third responders (Royal Flying Doctors Service, helicopter rescue services, SES etc).
By implementing real-time monitoring of the location of all personnel and equipment, effective emergency management in any incident is greatly enhanced. An example of the technology is GPS-enabled two-way radios with data constantly updating a console at a central control station. By viewing a screen, controllers can quickly identify the location of the incident, affected workers, first responders and any additional potential dangers. Once this monitoring is in place, an entirely new way of tackling the scenario is achievable.
During an incident
Take the situation where the emergency button is pressed or a “man down” application – an alarm indicating the worker’s radio is motionless or horizontal for a defined period of time – is triggered.
- Instantly the location of the emergency is displayed on the console. The location of first, second and third responders is also displayed on the console, each with unique icons.
- Security/safety/first responder management dispatch the appropriate resources and correct equipment in line with Health, Safety, Security and the Environment (HSSE) or social impact plans. Where necessary, escorts for responders (usually police/fire/ambulance) can be quickly arranged.
- Within minutes, injured workers are rapidly assisted, and those in potential danger are quickly moved to a safer location.
After the event, the HSSE management team can now determine the following:
- Time of the emergency
- Time to dispatch
- Time of mobilisation of first responders
- Triage time at the emergency location
- Total time for incident management
A critical element of the post-event analysis is the log of voice messages and call times. Applications on a digital two-way communications system record all voice calls and log the times of calls. This proves an invaluable record to determine whether the response was adequate and where improvements could be made.
Safety or incident management can use all this data to effectively prepare incident reports for the mine’s executive team and the relevant Mines Inspectorate.
Enhanced future responses
Moreover, with an effective plan and accurate incident records in place, management of mine sites can achieve a number of important objectives:
- Improve health and safety management for employees (both contractors and full-time)
- Cut emergency response times
- Improve emergency outcomes
- Shorten downtimes
- Review and evaluate emergency responses for further improvement
Using real-time data takes emergency management to the next level, from a reactive response with unpredictable outcomes to a proactive system of assessment, constant improvement and better safety for both full-time and contract workers.