23 abril, 2024

The work in the mines is considered one of the most dangerous , exposing the workers to different types of risks that could end up damaging their health , among them we have: risk of electrical contact , high noise level and constant vibrations , extreme temperatures, the inhalation of dust or gases , risks of falling or bumping , cuts , entrapment of operators due to possible detachment or collapse of the mine , ergonomic risk including repetitive movements , forced postures , overfunding , these long term will cause an occupational disease to the operator derived from decree 658/96. It was amended by decree 49/14 for the existence of more occupational diseases.

When we talk about occupational diseases we talk about a long list that we can find in the decree previously named. Among them we have:

Crystalline silica is a natural componet found formed by abundant rock , solids and sands. It is also found in concrete , brick , mortar and other building materials. It can occur in various forms ,quartz is the most common.

Coal dust has been another serious problem in the mines, causing pneumoconiosis or black lungs , which leads to a chronic obstructive pulmonary disease that later evolves into pulmonary fibrosis with a severe restrictive pattern.

The prevention of pneumoconiosis is done through the fight against dust in coal mining. The technical prevention measures consist of the use of water and air. The water is used for the agglomeration of the dust particles and , in this way , avoid their suspension in the air. The air serves for the dilution of dust and its entrainment by ventilation.

For the particular case of coal mines , the injection of water in the vein and the use of sprayers in the starting machines such as rockcutters , brushes , etc. are used.

In developed countries the risk to these mineral powders has been largely controlled by measures aimed at suppressing or reducing dust with the use of drilling equipment with water projection on the rocks , closed cabinets management , adequate ventilation systems and , finally , use of appropriate respiratory protection masks.

Exposure to diesel particles happens in underground mines because of the equipment that feeds it , especially in drilling and transport equipment. Diesel particles are classified by the IARC in group 2A as a probable human carcinigen , especially lung cancer.

We also have another type of risk that is present in this workplace that is the psychological one in the workers making the abuse of drugs and alcohol that has been a difficult issue to address in mining , although already , in many places , analysis of drugs in urine before being hired by the worker and after accidents are carried out.

Another important points to evaluate for this type of task are the conditions in which they work , their long journey will be done under the surface finding themselves in a low light work environment only counting on natural light and with little ventilation creating gaps in the earth  through the removal of material.

Inside the mines , if we look at its walls formed by its rocks , it will have a mesh on it in order to contain possible detachments of the walls and roof , avoiding landslides , before the movement of the rock mass.

They will exhibit different methods and protective materials among which are: coatings , pillars, steel meshes , wooden beams , bolts.

Do not confuse what is a rock protection with what is a reinforcement of it. The latter consists of a system of bolting or cables that reinforce the rock mass that increase the fractional resistance between the elements that compose it.

Preventive measures:

  •  In metal supports , periodically adjust the bolts of the clamps
  •  Avoid the use of wood for permanent support systems
  • Use the personal protection elements provided by the company , since its use has been defined to protect the person from the risks present in each task by the hygiene and safety service , with the participation of the occupational medicine service.
  •  For temporary support systems , avoid the use of dry , cracked of reclaimed wood from other activities.

Despite the effort made by many countries to give a better quality of life to the worker through their workday implemented preventive measures, the death rate caused by serious injuries or any occupational disease continues to increase. Therefore it is considered of the most dangerous occupations for man.

Those mining companies when they pass levels of 500 meters deep, know that the geomechanical risk they face will be much greater , for that reason , mining planning faces the challenge of making development and exploitation plans that should not only be granted wealth to the owners , but also maximize the safety of the workers. Before any demand life comes first.

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