Is it easy to be wary of the possibility of a serious accident every time a worker is tasked with any type of underground activity?
Underground safety has, indeed, garnered an insufficient safety focus, especially when it is talking about excavation, trenching, or any type of underground danger.
Workers involved continue to be at risk of permanent harm. The most it can go is dying in a tragic accident when safety precautions fail and are ignored by construction site handlers.
Excavation, confined space entry, and safety in mining all involve working in environments that present potential hazards to workers.
These hazards can include unstable ground, falling objects, equipment failure, and exposure to hazardous substances, among others.
All workers in underground environments, where there are several potential hazards, must be managed to ensure their safety. Some of the similarities between these three activities include:
- The need to assess and control risks: All three activities involve working in environments that pose risks to workers, and it is important to assess and control these risks before beginning work. This may involve conducting hazard assessments, implementing controls to mitigate risks, and providing training to workers on how to identify and avoid hazards.
- The importance of personal protective equipment (PPE): Workers in all three activities may be required to wear protective gear such as hard hats, steel-toed boots, and respiratory protection to reduce the risk of injury or illness.
- The need for emergency procedures: All three activities involve the potential for emergencies to occur, and it is important for workers to be trained on how to respond to emergencies and to know the location and use of emergency equipment. For e.g. first aid: workers should be trained in basic first aid, including how to provide CPR and how to use a defibrillator, in case of injury or illness.
- The need for effective communication: Working in underground environments can be isolating, and it is important for workers to be able to communicate effectively with each other and with surface personnel to coordinate their work and respond to emergencies.
Out of sight, out of mind is a statement that applies to some situations, but failing to consider subsurface services when carrying out construction work, especially when that work entails digging, can have disastrous consequences.
Although subsurface utilities may not be visible, they should always be treated as a potential threat when excavating or travelling underground.
Contact with subsurface services has the potential to be fatal and costly.
Live subterranean wires or pipes that are accidentally disturbed can cause flooding, fires, electrical arcs, gas releases, explosions, pollution, and electrocution. None of which are positive developments for your team or projects.
Cables and pipes can readily be cut with sharp instruments or crushed with heavy machinery when excavating the earth, resulting in significant service damage underground.
Particularly during excavation operations, buried services pose a serious risk to construction sites.
Even though underground services may have been in place for a long time, their position is frequently obscure. Even when records do contain information on where subsurface services are located, these can be inaccurate.
Maintaining the security of your staff and your services is essential to risk management.
When it comes to subsurface services, many health and safety risks can be removed during the planning and design phase. Considering subsurface services while you plan your project can avert or drastically cut down the possibility of issues during the project.
If you can completely avoid the requirement to work near subsurface utilities, you can eliminate the risk and the hazard. The placement of foundations and other structural components can be planned as part of your project to avoid any existing subsurface services. Alternatively, current services could be relocated before construction begins.
If you can’t relocate services entirely out of the way, you might be able to isolate them during work to reduce the danger of an unintentional disturbance.
You should think about risk management during the planning process, taking into account things like digging permissions and control mechanisms to safeguard subsurface utilities.
The following safety measures can assist you in avoiding harm from prior to and during underground services.
1. Visual inspections
Visually inspect the area throughout your visit for any visible indicators of services, such as patched road surfaces, valve covers, and manholes. These all provide hints as to what is underneath.
Visit Finding Underground Services to learn more (Colors And Identification) gas shield
2. Verify plans
Obtain plans from utility companies to determine what services will likely be offered.
Plans from utility or service providers can be used to determine whether subsurface services are present in the work area and to pinpoint their location. To find subsurface services, service plans should be accessible on-site. But keep in mind that service plans might not be entirely true.
3. Plans for cable location devices
are not always reliable in indicating the precise location of services, thus cable and pipe locating devices should be employed to create precise site service and plans and identify services on the ground.
eLearning solutions for underground spaces
To track services and get a precise picture of where they are installed underground, cable locators should be utilized. Any active pipe or cable can be traced along its path using a locator, such as a CAT scan, which also verifies its depth and location.
What’s important and empowering is that mines should go deeper and safer without undertaking the burden of hardwiring. That is to address and overcome the challenges of gathering data underground.
Working in confined spaces and its safety is one way of knowing and addressing the immediate challenges that come with it.
Our eLearning module of Confined space safety can help you with the learnings that are associated with it – it makes sure that if complemented with the physical training, the learner understands the tidbits of this category.
Reason being, even before, the underground industry was a progressive adopter of powerful new digital and wireless tools.
Safety and productivity are of primary importance to any mine. The access to safety training measures and newer tools helps boost both and avoid potential stop-work orders or accidents, both of which can be detrimental.