MINING SAFETY AND HEALTH IN NORTH AMERICA [Section 3]
The Future Culture of Mining Safety and Health In North America
--- Upon commencing on Wednesday, September 22, 1999
MR. GEOFF BAWDEN (Executive Director, Workplace Safety and Health Division, Manitoba Department of Labour): It is our privilege and pleasure to have an assembly of such fine individuals to discuss mining safety.
I am Geoff Bawden, the Executive Director of Workplace Safety and Health Division of the Manitoba Department of Labour, and I am your provincial co-chair.
I would like to introduce May Morpaw, from the Federal Government, who is the federal co-chair.
We are your hosts for the next few days, and I assure you it is a great pleasure to be a host.
I would like to introduce a gentleman I know very well, my boss and Deputy Minister of Labour for the province of Manitoba. Mr. Farrell is the longest serving Deputy of Labour in Canada at this time. He has been called by his colleagues and by others "the dean of Deputy Ministers across Canada", and he is the 1999 winner of the Lieutenant Governor's Aware for excellence in management.
Mr. Farrell comes with a history in the safety and health field, and most particularly in safety and health in mining. So he is well equipped to bring greetings from the Government of Manitoba.
MR. TOM FARRELL (Deputy Minister of Labour, Government of Manitoba): Good morning everyone.
On behalf of the Province of Manitoba and the Department of Labour, I want to bring you greetings to our province. I would also like to acknowledge the fact that there are, I gather, in excess of 100 delegates to this conference.
As someone who worked a significant part of my work life in the mining industry, I am aware of the many incredible things that are happening in mining safety and health, and of the significant strides that have been made to improve safety and reduce the risks and exposures of workers.
Last night at the reception, Dick Martin, an old associate from the industry and with the Canadian Labour Congress, made comment on the fact that he dreaded phone calls from me. We both worked together at INCO. He was one of the people who, when we got a fatal accident, was on my short list of who to notify. That was some years ago -- 22, 23 years ago -- but it is worth mentioning the change that has occurred. It is no longer acceptable. We need to continue to make it less acceptable every year, to see loss of life and injury and ill health.
A few years ago, the Manitoba Department of Labour made a proposal to host an International Mine Safety Conference, in partnership with the Government of Canada. This conference is a culmination of that proposal.
We believe that mine safety is an important topic and that Canada, as a world leader in mining, was the ideal location for such a conference. We hope to act as a catalyst to create and develop ongoing learning in this important area.
Manitoba has a long history of mining activity, and it has played an important role in the province's wellbeing. This thought was at the centre of our agreeing to host this international conference.
At the end of July and the beginning of August, the province was the location of the 13th Pan American Games. So you can see we have had a long experience in hosting a major event. South and Central America and the Caribbean participated in the 41 sporting competitions. We were very proud, as Manitobans, of how it came off and the fact that it was done with a core of some 20,000 people who volunteered.
Nearly a half million spectators cheered the athletes on; 2,500 technical officials took part, and more than 2,000 media covered the event. In addition, as many as 400 million viewers through the Pan American nations watched the games via television. Unfortunately, this conference is on a somewhat smaller scale, but we do welcome you here.
I would like to tell you a little about our province. We are located in the geographic centre of Canada. It has a population slightly more than one million people. Manitoba is one of the ten provinces and three territories that make up Canada.
Presently, Manitoba has the second lowest unemployment rate in Canada. The largest industry sector is manufacturing, with key components in the aerospace and transportation equipment, clothing, textiles, furniture and fixtures.
Canada's largest insurance company is located in Manitoba. We have an enormous hog industry, with approximately 500 million hogs being produced annually. Not very much to do with mining, but good economic stuff!
Manitoba also has a story to tell about our own successes. One of the mining companies in this province won the J.T. Ryan trophy this year as the safest mine in Canada. Another has made significant strides in reducing the injury rate, to a point where they are now a fraction of what was happening just a decade ago. So we have and are taking it seriously.
I think the work being done by the individual mine operators, in co-operation with government, and with the work of safety and health committees in the workplaces, has gone a long way towards advancing this. I think everyone has a piece of this, and through the cooperation in safety and health we are seeing these changes.
Manitoba is also renowned for its wildlife. Here in the city, we have the Fort White Nature Centre, where this time of year thousands of ducks and geese stop off as part of their annual fall migration. About 20 km to the north we have Okamic Marsh (sp), which houses a large Ducks Unlimited complex, which also is a fascinating place to see the geese collect and feed before they commence their travel south.
I would also be remiss if I didn't mention our famous provincial animal, not the beaver or buffalo, but the uris martinamis, the polar bear, the largest land carnivore in the world, that can weigh up to 700 kg (1,500 pounds), they breed in Manitoba and at this time of the year many are waiting, near Churchill, Manitoba, to slowly make their way up along the ice as it forms in Hudson Bay.
There are some estimated 1,600 bears that live along our borders, with Hudson Bay, the Northwest Territories and Ontario. They are pretty impressive creatures. My advice is, if you choose to go up to Churchill, see them from a distance. As I say, they are the largest carnivore we have.
Nature and conservation is an important part of our province as well. The International Centre for Sustainable Development is located here in Manitoba, and Manitoba is working towards becoming a world leader in this important area. We know that mining is striving to become more environmentally conscious, and sustainable development is a concern of everyone.
"Sustainable development" I think is a buzz word that we need to sometimes look at. It really says that everything you do has to be of value. That applies not just to the environment, but it locks (sp) the environment concerns as well as safety and health issues. So I think it is one that we have to consider whenever we look at what we are doing.
I would like to point that around here there are some interesting spots you may want to visit. For example, about two blocks in that direction is the Forks Market area, located at the junction of the Red and Assiniboine River. This is an area that was covered with railroad tracks a few years ago, and has now been replaced with what was a meeting place 10,000 years ago for aboriginal people. So the history is there.
Our Legislative Building is about five blocks up the street here. If you happen to have an opportunity to go up there, you will see a very large edifice built of our native limestone. It has not changed from the way it was constructed in 1913-1914.
A walk through the nearby Old Market Square area will also allow you to view architecture that was put in place prior to the turn of this century, and has been preserved through the work of the Heritage Association.
Over the next three days, this conference will explore how the unique culture found in the mining industry impacts on safety and health, and how we can use this factor to support better endeavours in this whole area.
Mining is both a family and community in Canada. If you visit one of our northern mining communities, you will find miners who come from all parts of Canada. Suffice it to say not just Canada, but many other parts of the world.
I want to thank our colleagues from the United States of America and Mexico for coming to our beautiful province, and I trust you will find your stay rewarding both professionally and personally.
I hope over the next few days you will enjoy your visit to Manitoba, and I wish you good luck and a successful conference.
Thank you very much.
I would now like to call on my associate and friend, May Morpaw, the federal co-chair.
MS. MAY MORPAW (Director, Inter-American Labour Cooperation): Thank you.
Buenos días a todos. Bonjour. Good morning, and welcome to Winnipeg and to Canada.
There is very little more that I can say to welcome you to Winnipeg and to Manitoba after what Tom has just said. I think that was a marvelous introduction. It covered many of the highlights of the province. So thank you, Tom.
I would like to welcome you all to Canada for this Conference on the Future Culture of Mining, Safety and Health in North America. I am delighted to see that so many of you have responded to our invitation to join us here for these few days for a cooperative activity jointly organized by the federal government and the Government of Manitoba, and with our colleagues of the Labour Department in the United States and the Secretaría de Trabajo y Previsión Social of Mexico.
This conference was first proposed, as Tom mentioned, by the Government of Manitoba. That was almost five years ago. It is not that it has taken us five years to organize this one, but it was an idea that came very early in terms of something Canada wanted to do, but under the Cooperative Activities Program, we take turns rotating our events among the countries. It is important that you know that this is the fifth one we have had on safety and health. We did do another one in Canada on the petro-chemical sector in 1994, and we were also participating in others in Mexico and the United States, most recently one on the bottling industry, which was held in June in Mexico.
Geoff Bawden will speak in a few moments about the conference overview but first, my counterparts and I, the Secretaries of the National Administrative Offices in Canada, the United States and Mexico, will say a few words. Our responsibility is to implement, in each of our countries, the North American Agreement on Labour Cooperation, which is one of two side agreements to the NAFTA. The other one is the Environmental Agreement and, as you can suspect, I think there is some overlap between the two in areas like mining.
J'aimerais mentionner que les trois pays signataires de l'Accord nord-américain de coopération dans le domaine du travail ont un programme continu d'activités de coopération et non pas uniquement dans le domaine de la santé et de la sécurité au travail. C'est un pilier important de cet important accord, un accord innovateur qui est vraiment concentré sur la coopération entre nos trois pays.
On essaie de créer un réseau d'experts sur notre continent, d'améliorer les conditions de travail dans la mesure du possible. Ce que nous pouvons apporter, c'est de promouvoir l'innovation et l'échange d'informations, et surtout sur les meilleures pratiques et les pratiques à éviter.
La revue de l'Accord nord-américain de coopération a eu lieu l'an passé, après quatre années de mise en vigueur. Ce qu'on a découvert est un fort appui et un grand intérêt pour ce genre d'activités de coopération entre nos trois pays. Au Canada, on est particulièrement heureux d'avoir l'appui des provinces, qui ont la compétence en matière de travail.
The four year review conclusions highlighted the importance of continuing and building on our current cooperative workplan and our intent to develop a more strategic focus for the future, and to focus on key workplace issues in our three countries. Mining is certainly one of those. Mining has made a very significant contribution to the economic development of Canada, and for a long time Canadian and American mining companies have shared interests.
I also understand, from talking to Gordon Peeling last night, from the Canadian Mining Association, that Canada has active interests in Mexican mining exploration particularly. I believe he told me that there are over 40 Canadian companies active in one particular state of Mexico alone. This is very important in terms of exchanging what we know with each other. We all know that human life is very fragile. We have been watching what is happening with earthquakes and other climatic disasters in the last few days, but human disasters are what we can work on preventing, and it really is the goal of this conference.
In that regard, the mining industry has also traditionally been at the forefront of improvements in health and safety. You were able to see some of that yesterday if you were on the tours, and gauge how far mining has come in terms of traditional areas of mining or in newer areas of mining and the focus on safety and health.
It is timely that this conference focuses on this industry, and we will do that over the next few days. We will talk very much about worker and employer participation in safety and health programming and in responsibility for what happens, as well as government responsibility for regulation.
In closing, let me simply add that the new Canadian Minister of Labour, well new since last December, almost a year now, the Honourable Claudette Bradshaw, and Warren Edmondson, have asked me to extend their best wishes for a successful conference this week. J'en profite pour remercier à l'avance tous les conférenciers, les animateurs et les participants qui vont nous accompagner pendant ces quelques jours. C'est un programme très ambitieux que nous confrontons, et je suis convaincue qu'en plus de la discussion professionnelle vous aurez d'excellentes occasions d'échanger entre vous.
Thank you very much. On that, I will ask my counterpart from the United States of America, Irasema Garza, to come up to the podium.
MS. IRASEMA GARZA (Secretary, National Administrative Office, U.S. Department of Labor): Good morning. It is my pleasure to be here with you in beautiful Winnipeg with May Morpaw and Rafael Aranda to welcome you to what I know is going to be a very valuable and successful conference.
I want to congratulate the Canadian NAO staff, Geoff Bawden and Tom Farrell, with the Government of Manitoba, on doing a superb job in putting this event together, and also for ordering perfect weather while we are here. What a beautiful day it was yesterday!
In particular, I want to thank them for organizing yesterday's site visits to the Tanco Mines and the underground research laboratory. Although unfortunately I was unable to attend -- I was on a plane on my way here -- the feedback from those who did attend from my delegation and from my staff, have told me that it was an extremely interesting experience. So thank you for that.
In ratifying the North American Agreement on Labour Cooperation, our governments acknowledged their commitment to the protection of workers, and in particular to address occupational safety and health issues. This conference is the 5th in a series, under the auspices of the NAALC, as May stated. She also stated that this past June, Mexico hosted an important conference on safety and health in the bottling industry.
In the United States, the Clinton administration and Secretary of Labour, Alexis Herman, are committed to the principles in the NAALC, to prescribe and implement standards to minimize the causes of occupational injuries and illnesses. Over the years, we have worked with the U.S. mining industry, which has made significant strides in safety and health.
Mining deaths have declined from thousands each year in the early 20th century, to record lows in the 1990s; 80 deaths last year. Not only sheer numbers but even more significantly, the rate of fatal mining accidents, as I just mentioned, has plunged. The fatal injury rate for the U.S. mining industry was cut almost in half between 1970 and 1998. This has been accomplished even while productivity has reached unprecedented heights. The United States mining industry has shown that safety and health are more than compatible with production.
Nevertheless, much remains to be done; even 80 deaths are too many. Each year, more than 300 U.S. miners are diagnosed with work-related health conditions, like black lung and other diseases. Thousands more suffer from non-fatal injuries on-the-job. At the same time, every one in the industry must stay on guard every single day, every shift, every hour, to prevent explosions and fires, mine collapses and other potential disasters. Meanwhile, mining technology continues to evolve, helping to solve some problems and potentially creating others.
We are also seeing employment growth in some sectors, notably construction minerals. Inexperienced miners joining the work force need training and extra vigilance. To maintain the current safety and health records and improve on them demands our full attention. Indeed, improving the safety and health records in all of our three countries demands full attention.
We have an impressive group with us from the United States, representing government and business and the labour sector. I am especially pleased to have with us my good friend Deputy Assistant Secretary of Mining, Safety and Health, Marvin Nichols, who will be speaking to you a little bit later on.
It is my hope that through this conference our countries will take one more step toward improving health and safety issues in the mining industry. I am looking forward to a constructive conference, filled with lively exchanges. Again, I am very pleased to be here, and look forward to this conference. Thank you very much.
SR. RAFAEL ARANDA VOLLMER (Secretario, Oficina Administrativa Nacional, Secretaría del Trabajo y Previsión Social, México): Buenos días, el Secretario del Trabajo, Mariano Palacios Alcocer, les envía un saludo y les desea el éxito en esta conferencia a todos los participantes en materia de cooperación laboral. Ya existían esfuerzos de cooperación entre los tres países desde antes de firmar el Acuerdo de Cooperación Laboral. Sin embargo, el Acuerdo ha tenido un efecto multiplicador en los esfuerzos en materia de cooperación. Los temas de seguridad e higiene han sido una de las áreas que mayor impulso y fuerza ha adquirido en el marco del Acuerdo de Cooperación.
La industria minera en México siempre ha tenido una preocupación muy importante por asegurarse que la seguridad y la higiene sea un tema prioritario. Quiero también aprovechar la ocasión para dar las gracias a Canadá, a May Morpaw, al Sr. Thomas Farrell y a Geoff Bawden por su hospitalidad y estoy seguro que este evento enriquecerá nuestros conocimientos y los lazos de entendimiento de los tres países. Dejo el micrófono a Geoff Bawden.
MR. GEOFF BAWDEN: Thank you very much. Good morning again.
Yesterday, many of you took an opportunity to tour two of our facilities in the southern part of the province. I would like to thank the Tantillum Company of Canada for their courtesy and hospitality in showing you around their mine at Burnac Lake. I would also like to thank the Underground Research Laboratory at Penawa for their courtesy and hospitality for showing off their fine facility and the Canadian shield just outside of Winnipeg.
Most of our mines of course and underground operations are in the northern part of the province, where some 4,000 underground miners work.
Mining directly employs 368,000 Canadians. It is hardly a trivial industry in this country. It contributes about 26 billion dollars, or 3.7 per cent, of our gross domestic product.
Canada is one of the world's largest mineral exporters, exporting about 60 different mineral commodities to more than 100 countries. Eighty per cent of our minerals and metal products, valued at 45 billion dollars, are produced for export. In total, export of our mineral and metals represents 14 per cent of total Canadian exports.
The mining sector ranks among the top economic growth sectors, and ranks first in productivity.
Recent estimates of the impact of mining indicates that for every one million in output created by mining, smelting and refining sectors, the direct demand for goods and services increases by 615 million dollars. Thus, a strong Canadian mining industry supports a multitude of small and medium size businesses involved in mining services, consulting, engineering, equipment manufacturing, sales and service, to name a few. So Canada and Manitoba have a significant interest in mining.
When we set this conference up, in cooperation with the federal government, we had four major objectives in mind: To celebrate safety and health as a collective workplace strategy, where workers and employers can work together. We wanted to explore new technologies to enhance safety protection for workers. We wanted to strengthen cooperation, research and dialogue amongst international partners, to ensure continuous improvement in mining safety and health. We wanted to understand the role of regulators and their practices in guiding and working with their colleagues in labour and business in guiding the evolution of safety and health in the mining sector.
--- (Graph display)
This graph demonstrates Canada's injury rate per hundred workers. You will note that since 1987 it has been a downward trend, although in the last three years we note that the trend seems to be slightly upwards. Over the last decade we see a significant improvement in terms of lost time accident rate and mining in this country. These graphs will be available, if you wish.
This slightly complex graph shows the Manitoba record since 1971. The bar graph shows the number of fatalities in this province. You will note in 1971 there were 13 miners killed in this province. You will notice that in 1998, there were three miners killed in this province, this includes pits and quarries. We can obviously say that mining in Manitoba is a lot safer now than in previous decades. We can also say that there are still three widows in Manitoba from last year.
We are well satisfied that we have seen a reduction in fatalities in this province. We clearly do have work to do, as we still have injuries and fatalities occurring.
The red line at the top demonstrates the downward trend in lost time accident rates in this province. You will note that in the last five years we have seen a rather dramatic downturn in the lost time accident rate.
You have to ask yourselves what these improvements are from. Obviously improved mining practices and automation, creating reduced exposures, better government regulations requiring improved safety practices, employers and workers working closely together as a team to make safety their number one priority, and frankly an unacceptance by the public, by workers and employers, of conditions in mines which lead to unsafe conditions.
Over the next three days we will have the opportunity to share our best practices and learn from each other. We have selected a variety of mining safety and health topics and have engaged some of North America's best safety practitioners to tell us about them. Sessions are planned for "Remote Mining"; "Disaster Planning and Mine Rescue". As one of our Manitoba experts says, he hates the phrase "disaster planning". He says: You really don't plan for a disaster; it's "disaster avoidance" you are looking for. I thank you for that comment, Barry.
"Preventing Adverse Human Consequences"; "Understanding the Mechanism of Injury"; "Ergonomics and Human Factors" -- of course we have an increased number of repetitive strain injuries. It is one of the fastest growing injury areas. "Respiratory Disease" -- Diesel Exhaust Emission is a very hot topic in North America. "Workers Compensation"; "Partnerships for Managing Safety and Health"; "Performance Measures and Occupational Safety and Health"; "Building Positive Workplace Rapport"-- key cooperation between the parties is necessary to achieve the highest quality of safety.
Coming out of these sessions there will be a final panel session, looking to develop a summary and recommendations to see where we can go from here.
I look forward to meeting everyone in the next few days, and hope that we will all have a successful and informative conference.
I would like to thank a few of my staff for their hard work in making this happen. Mr. Blahey is standing by the door. When he looks very very nervous and busy I can look very relaxed, because I know he is busy solving the next problem. I want to thank you, Glen, for the hard work that you put in, and to the staff. I want to thank Kesari Reddy for the hard work that he has put into this.
Our people will be here throughout the conference. If you have any questions, problems, they will be happy to help you with it. If you have any complaints about what is going on, tell me; if you have compliments, please tell Glen.
We are keen to help you, and again promise you the best time during this conference. There are a couple of very relaxed events planned in the upcoming days, which you will be advised about.
Now, as I look at Mr. Martin sitting there, I would like to introduce you to a man who is certainly no stranger to Manitoba, being an ex Manitoba miner, who has had a distinguished career with the Canadian Labour Congress and is clearly a friend of workers. I would like to introduce Mr. Dick Martin.
MR. RICHARD MARTIN (Canada): First of all I want to thank Geoff. Tom Farrell did an excellent job of describing Manitoba and Manitoba society and wildlife, but what he did neglect to tell you is that there is one piece of wildlife in Manitoba that is very unique, and that is humongous mosquitoes. In terms of Manitoba, it is a national pastime to go hunting for them with shotguns. So we have excellent skeet shooters here in the province of Manitoba because of their practice on mosquitoes. The good part about it is that the mosquitoes do not carry malaria or yellow fever, just big bites is all they give you.
I have the distinct pleasure to introduce our key note speaker this morning, Mr. Marvin Nichols, Jr., who is Deputy Assistant Secretary, Mine Safety and Health Administration in the Department of Labour in the U.S.
Mr. Nichols was designated as the Deputy Assistant Secretary for the Mine Safety Health Administration in September of last year. Prior to becoming Deputy Assistant Secretary, Mr. Nichols was the Administrator, Coal Mines Safety and Health. Mr. Nichols moved into that position from the job of Administrator, Metals and Non-Metals in Safety and Health.
Mr. Nichols received a Master's Degree in Public Administration from American University in Washington. He is the recipient of many awards and recognitions, including the Presidential Rank Award received in 1992.
Would you please welcome our speaker, Mr. Marvin Nichols, Jr.
MR. MARVIN W. NICHOLS, JR. (Deputy Assistant Secretary, Mine Safety and Health Administration, U.S. Department of Labor): Good morning. It is a pleasure to be here. It is a pleasure for the U.S. Mine Safety and Health Administration to participate in this conference along with our counterparts on the U.S. labour and management side.
The technology of the mining industry is, without a doubt, some of the most important technology that exists. Historically, and we have already heard this from our Canadian friends, this industry has served as the foundation as the world's economy. The contributions of this industry to the world at large, along with energy and raw materials, have included many scientific and technical advances.
The international exchange of information about mining technology at this conference is just one aspect of the increasing and accelerating technical exchanges that are transforming industry, trade and the world economy today. This transformation is creating new challenges for all of us, including the mining community. It also is creating opportunities to improve safety and health. The technology of safety and health in particular presents a rich field of opportunities.
Today, we have an opportunity to exchange information about new technologies that show great promise for solving problems. We also have an opportunity to discuss concerns that continue to present serious challenges and require in-depth research.
You will hear much more from our upcoming speakers, but I would like to begin by presenting a few actual occurrences that highlight the importance of the present technological challenges and the value of innovation that we have experienced in some situations in the U.S. mining industry.
I would like to start with a success story. One evening last year, four coal miners were at work on a long wall section in an underground coal mine in Carbon County, Utah. A blast of air knocked them off their feet without any warning. Moments later, the four miners saw a flame, a ball of fire emerge from a worked out area. The flame retreated and then returned. One miner later said that the fire seemed like it was breathing in and out.
The miners knew, as we all know, that in just moments the mine air could become deadly to breathe. They quickly donned self contained self rescuers, and hurried to give the alarm.
As the fire blazed out of control, the mine management activated a pager system, known as the Personal Emergency Device System. This is not required by U.S. mining law. The mine operator had installed this system voluntarily.
Each miner underground was carrying a small individual pager unit and received an emergency message. The emergency message said: Mine fire; evacuate.
The entire work force left the mine safely within about 45 minutes. This was a serious fire. When the mine operator contacted our agency, we quickly brought in an emergency response vehicle to the mine, set up gas detection equipment and worked closely with mine officials to begin steps to control the fire.
The fire took months to bring under control, but today this mine is back in production. Not one person suffered injury during the emergency or during the recovery of the mine. Part of the credit for that achievement almost certainly belongs to this Personal Emergency Device. How, you might ask, could the mine operator send a page to everyone under tons and feet of rock?
The key is that the system uses a fluctuating low frequency magnetic field to send messages instead of the electro-magnetic waves. This pager system seems to be a very promising example of new technology that can help to protect miners. Incidentally, it is a fine example of the value of international exchange. This unit was developed and originated in Australia.
I was able to put together one brochure on the system itself. I would like to leave that with you, to pass around during your workshops.
Now let's consider another occurrence, this time from a surface mining operation. At mines in the U.S., we find that most fatal accidents on the surface relate to transportation. It could be trucks, front-end loaders, railway cars, belt conveyors, and similar equipment. There are many factors involved in these accidents. Some of the factors are equipment maintenance, roadway design, and training. Another important factor is visibility. In fact, restricted visibility factored into more than a hundred miners' deaths during a recent 10-year period in the U.S.
One aspect of visibility is blind spots. As we all know, even when we drive our cars we have to watch out when we are backing up or changing lanes because there is almost always some area of a blind spot even in smaller vehicles. The bigger the vehicle, the more serious the blind spot tends to be.
One morning last winter, a technician at an Arizona copper mine was on his way to make repairs to a haulage truck. A misunderstanding may have led him to park his pick-up truck in the wrong place, near a 320-ton hauler that was about to move into position for loading. He approached the truck from behind and parked in front in a blind area.
This pick-up truck had an 11-foot visibility pole mounted on the truck. The driver of the haulage truck sounded a horn and started the truck in motion, but could not see either the truck or the visibility pole. The 320-ton truck backed over the small pick-up. The 320-truck was so massive that the driver did not even feel it strike the pick-up truck. I have seen photographs of this accident. You can see the pick-up is just twisted steel, like smashing an aluminum can or something like that.
Unfortunately, this was by no means the first accident of its kind. Similar accidents have happened at mines in virtually every sector of our mining industry. Most of these accidents have had several contributing causes, as I mentioned, but one thing seems clear: Many lives might have been saved if the operators of these massive haul trucks did not have to contend with these blind spots.
I don't know about in Canada, but in the U.S. some of these surface mine hauling trucks continue to get bigger and bigger. Reportedly, and I don't know from which mine this might be, I suspect it might be the big surface mining area in the Thunder Basin in Wyoming, reportedly one truck in use now can haul about 400 tons.
I had the opportunity a couple of years ago to ride in one of these huge haul, this is a huge caterpillar truck. They are almost like a house moving down the road. It is a massive piece of machinery.
As production technology improves, such as bigger mining equipment, health and safety technology also needs to keep pace. One solution being tried in the U.S. is the deployment of cameras on large trucks. Operators can view blind spots on video monitors in the cab. The first company to pioneer this technology in the U.S. was U.S. Borax at its operation in California.
Last year, our agency sent a letter and video to associations throughout the mining industry, suggesting that other mines might find value in this approach. Today, several more mines throughout the U.S. are using or experimenting with video cameras on haulage equipment.
Proximity devices are another promising technology that could solve this problem. They could prevent these types of accidents by sounding an alarm or by preventing the truck from being started when an obstacle, such as a smaller truck, is in the way.
Visibility can also be a problem underground. The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, NIOSH, is exploring the use of proximity alarms in continuous mining operations underground.
In responding to visibility problems, here again new technology promises significant gains in protecting miner safety and health. NIOSH's work on proximity alarms also serves as an example of safety technology that is being developed for use in the mining industry that may find uses elsewhere.
Proximity alarms show potential for helping to protect people and workplaces like construction sites, warehouses, and agricultural operations where employees work in close proximity to mobile machinery.
So far the examples I have given are of mine safety. The other half of the picture we are concerned with is the occupational health issues. For example, consider a coal miner in Kentucky named Terry Howard. He operated a drill at a surface coal mine. Several years ago, during his prime working years, he developed breathing problems. His illness turned out to be silicosis, contracted from breathing the quartz dust that surrounded him when he drilled into the rock overburden.
Silicosis, as we all know, is an incurable disease and can get worse when the sick person is removed from further exposure. There is no cure for silicosis. Howard became totally disabled. His condition deteriorated rapidly and he died, leaving a widow and three school age children. He was only 45 years old.
I did not have the opportunity to meet Howard but I have talked to his widow. She spoke at a national conference that we organized to discuss the subject of silicosis. She has become an eloquent spokesperson on behalf of prevention measures, so that other miners' families do not have to go through the suffering that she has known.
In the U.S. we have had health regulations in place to combat lung disease among miners since 1970. There has been great progress but as May mentioned, in 1997 there was still more than 300 new cases of occupational lung disease reported to our agency. We have determined that it is time for us to finally eradicate this disease. To do that, we are attacking the problem from every angle; a critical angle is technology.
There is a need for better technology for dust measurement. Currently, measuring coal miner's dust exposure requires us to take a sample for eight hours, send that sample to the laboratory and wait for the result. Meanwhile, the miners may still be exposed to too much dust.
We are now testing in the U.S. a device that is designed to continuously measure airborne coal mine dust. At the same time, it performs the same function when worn by the individual miner. Meanwhile, improved analytical methods already are allowing us to measure the silica content of coal mine dust more accurately.
There is a need for much better technology for the prevention of lung disease. For instance, our agency recently organized a conference that focused on the silica exposure of miners who operate equipment with closed cabs. Sometimes these miners were overexposed to silica because the cab is not designed or maintained to filter out the dangerous dust.
We have met with several equipment manufacturers, filter manufacturers and retrofitters to talk about what can be done with a situation. This initial meeting seemed very promising, so we are going to continue to follow up on that.
At the same time, even within the U.S. there is a need to share information about dust control technology. For instance, we recently published a booklet we call "A Toolbox". It contains more than 20 techniques to reduce dust in some of the most challenging areas of underground coal mines: the long wall sections.
We work with members of trade associations to develop videos on silica control and top Crushstone Association members had to conduct their own silica sample. We posted a large amount of health information on our world wide website, including actual sample results. Now, members of the mining community can compare their individual experience with others.
Exchange in technology information will be critical if we are to end these diseases. I should also mention that clearly among the most promising technology for international exchanges on mine, safety and health is the Internet. Officials from our agency saw this last year at a meeting between the U.S. and the European Union on Occupational Safety and Health.
From the European delegates, it was clear that occupational safety and health personnel in those countries as well as the U.S. already were using the Internet routinely to gather information about safety and health standards elsewhere. It was also clear that there is potential for far more. For instance, by sharing of training materials, statistical data, we may be able to combine research results and identify emerging safety and health problems more quickly.
Let me quickly mention a few other technology issues that are being studied in the U.S. Today, one of the leading causes of death underground, primarily coal mines, continues to be (inaudible) of broken ribs. About half of the current coal mining deaths fall in that category.
Among the promising areas of technology being studied or used in the U.S. are microseismic and ground penetrating radar, advances in remote sensing, software that helps to predict areas of past stress, and a British system for remote monitoring of roof conditions.
I believe it has already been mentioned that fires are still the most dreaded of mine emergencies. Most of our large mines use some form of remote sensing to detect gases that might signal a fire. There have been some problems with false alarms caused by diesel exhaust, but now there is a device used in some mines that distinguishes the difference.
It has also been mentioned that diesel particulate is implicated in the health problems. We are proposing to regulate it in the U.S. mines. The testing stage is that these personal disposable particulate samples, if successfully developed, this can be worn by miners working around diesel equipment. It will provide data on their exposure to diesel emissions.
There are still many mine injuries caused by lifting and handling material. New solutions for this include lightweight concrete blocks that weigh about one-third as much as traditional cement blocks used for stoppings underground. A new plastic grid material, lightweight and fire resistant, can be used for roof support in long wall moves.
We are looking at methods to prevent bulldozer operators working on stockpiles. There have been a number of fatalities in the U.S. for dozers who are working on stockpiles over a void, and the dozer will sink into the pile, either crushing or suffocating the operator. We are looking at areas that may include half (inaudible) glass on the cab or radio controls for remote control.
We are also looking for new answers to protect miners from noise. While hearing loss is not directly life threatening, it can be a safety concern and certainly affects quality of life as well as costing society in terms of workers' compensation.
This month, our agency issued improved noise regulations, but even with these changes, we know that thousands of miners on the job probably will suffer job-related hearing loss during their work life. Physicians and hearing specialists recognize that workers' hearing is adversely affected by noise exposures at or over 85 decibels. At the same time, we understand that in some situations it is not now technologically or economically feasible to reduce the noise levels to 90 decibels. We plan to work with the mining community in the years ahead to promote the use of available technology and develop new methods for lowering miners' exposure to noise.
The electronic revolution has given us much new safety and health technology. It promises much more. It has given us new tools to analyze data in a more meaningful way, and it has given us new tools to exchange information literally in seconds. The importance of what we do in mining safety and health, however, remains unchanged. Mining is as critical as ever to the wellbeing of the world community.
For much of the world, including the U.S., coal provides essential power. The raw materials of the electronic age -- copper, aluminum and all the rest -- still emerge from the earth as minerals.
Mining also remains an occupation that is unusually difficult, demanding and dangerous. In the past, too many miners have been subjected to unsafe and unhealthy mining conditions, and have even lost their lives to provide coal, metals and other minerals to the rest of the world.
Today, however, in the North American community and in much of the rest of the world, these conditions are no longer accepted as inevitable. Where unsafe and unhelpful workplace conditions exist, we are committed to doing something about it.
We are all aware that unfortunately one aspect of today's improved ease of trade and transportation is that occupational safety and health problems can, in some cases, be exported along with new technology. We know that hazards can be exported and sometimes created in less developed regions by the very fact of the protections we have adopted.
We in the North American mining community need to work together to do something about that. We have a responsibility to share our safety and health technology, both with each other and the rest of the world.
We at MSHA are trying to do what little we can to try to improve mine safety and health on the international level. We do this primarily through our Mine Safety and Health Academy in Beckley, West Virginia.
In the past two years, MSHA has had safety and health interactions with the Ukrainians, South Africans, the Russian Federation, Poland, Pakistan, Australia, Austria, Mexico, Chile, the United Kingdom, Japan, China, Bulgaria, and of course Canada. We would like to continue this. We are limited in what we can do financially to do international work, but we can make our academy available to anyone that is interested in using it.
One new development in international cooperation is taking place tomorrow in Louisville, Kentucky. For the first time, the National Coal Mine Rescue and First Aid Contest will include representatives from Russia, Ukraine, Poland, and Nova Scotia, who worked to help solve a hypothetical emergency problem. Observers will also be there from Japan, China and South Africa.
All the participants will have a chance to learn more about each other's rescue techniques. We are hoping to make this contest a regular event.
Today, we in the Occupational Safety and Health Community have opportunities to build stronger, more effective working relationships across boundaries more than ever. Relationships across the boundaries of labour, management and government agencies, relationships across the boundaries of nations, these are great opportunities if we can create new forums for working together.
We feel extremely fortunate to learn from the representatives of our North American partners, sharing our own experience and, most important, forging new working relationships to help save miners' lives, prevent injuries, and protect their health.
I thank you, and I could try to answer a few questions.
Question Period - Période de questions - Período de Preguntas
MR. MARTIN: Thank you very much, Marvin.
He is prepared to answer any questions or receive statements. Does anyone want to take the floor and ask Marvin any particular questions on aspects of his speech?
NEW SPEAKER: (Off-microphone) –
MR. MARTIN: I would remind everybody to please use the microphone for translation purposes when you ask questions. Thank you.
MR. NICHOLS, JR.: The question was, what do we think about using the self-contained self-rescuers in all mines, beyond underground coal mines and beyond the use in the United States. Is that pretty much –
NEW SPEAKER: Yes.
MR. NICHOLS, JR.: Our agency would favour that. In the U.S. underground mines, there is the requirement for filter self-rescuers in non coal mining operations, and self-contained self-rescuers in the underground coal. We have tried to promote the use in some of the underground metal and non-metal mines. We have a little bit of success, but we would like to see operators worldwide use self-contained self-rescuers.
MR. MARTIN: Any further questions, or statements?
NEW SPEAKER: Speaking as a regulator, how, as a regulator, do you keep pace with the changes in technology, because regulations typically are longer in development, and technology tends to press ahead at a greater pace.
MR. NICHOLS, JR.: I'm not sure I understood the question. Could you repeat it please?
MR. MARTIN: The question relates to how, as a regulator, you keep pace with technology in terms of keeping regulations current and topical. Technology seems to grow at an expanding rate, and the issue is how, as a regulatory agency, do you keep pace with that technology?
MR. NICHOLS, JR.: It is very difficult. I mentioned the diesel particulate issue. We have a proposed regulation in place right now that has created a lot of debate. It is going to take some time to move that regulation forward.
One thing we have tried to do, especially with the large haul units, there is no requirement to have these video cameras on these trucks and a lot of operators are reluctant to put these on, because they are afraid if they do something above and beyond the call of duty and there is something wrong with it, we will come in and cite them.
We have tried to develop partnerships with mining companies to go ahead and try to advance this technology, and we will not penalize them for doing this. On the one hand, it takes years to develop regulations. On the other hand, we are trying stay up with the issues and get ahead of it through some partnerships.
I don't know if that exactly answers your question, but that is what we are trying to do.
NEW SPEAKER: I have one question. The amount of inspectors within your department, has that gone up? Has it stayed static, or gone down? What about prosecutions? Is that up or down?
MR. NICHOLS, JR.: There is a decrease in the coal mining industry, there is a lot of consolidation going on in the U.S. coal industry. As May mentioned, production is way up. The number of mining operations are coming down. In fact, the U.S. coal production has doubled since the mid-eighties, from about 500 million tons to over a billion tons last year. A lot of that production is coming from big western surface mines, so a lot of the (inaudible) for eastern coal mines are closing down. So the number of coal mine inspectors we have been letting come down with attrition.
There has been an issue that we have had back and forth over the past several years, at least for the last ten years, about mine operator dust sampling, whether mine operators cheat or don't cheat when they take their dust samples. The industry favours this, labour favours it, that MSHA would take over the coal mine dust sampling program. So we have asked for some slight increases on the coal side to do that, probably about 100 inspectors.
On the non coal side, with the increase of this new Transportation Equity Act, that is going to put about $200 billion, I believe, over the next five or ten years in the U.S. economy for road construction. That is going to really increase crushstone, sand and gravel production, so we have asked for increases for our non coal mining inspector ranks. Last year we got about 40, and we are asking for another increase of 40 or 50 for this year.
As far as criminal prosecutions, I think there are some. I am thankful to say that that is a smaller part of our business, but we do have some and they are usually related to mining fatalities or disasters or dust drop or something like that.
As most of you know, the statutes that the Mine Safety and Health Administration uses require that we inspect all underground mines four times a year, and all surface mines twice. We do not have the legal wiggle room to do less, so we are compelled to do that.
NEW SPEAKER: I just want to go back to having a particular interest in visibility and will be speaking on Thursday regarding visibility from load haul dump vehicles, and your mention of cameras on large haul vehicles on surface. I have two questions: Have you had any experience with their hardiness or the durability? Maybe I will add a third question on operators' perceptions: Are they considering such a thing?
MR. NICHOLS, JR.: To my knowledge, we have not had any experience underground. It has all been on the surface.
NEW SPEAKER: That misses my other two then, obviously. If you have not tried them underground, then we do not know if they are hardy enough or if they are going to be accepted. Maybe that is something for everybody at the delegation to think about, and we can have a discussion on that on Thursday when I talk.
MR. NICHOLS, JR.: There is a lot of difference in using something underground than in the lab. We are finding that out with this continuous monitoring device we are trying to develop for the dust program.
The prototypes worked pretty well in the lab, but once we got them underground on long wall sections, continuous matters, we shift them apart. We are now having to further "ruggerize" them to put them back underground. It is a different environment.
NEW SPEAKER: In Canada, it is generally accepted that co-operation between the worker, supervisor and all the way up the chain of command within the corporation to the Chief Executive Officer is essential to reduce and prevent accidents.
I would like to ask you what you do in the United States to foster this cooperation within the mining industry? I would also like to ask a second question, which is, what training is mandated within the United States for mine workers and their supervisors to try to prevent accidents? Two questions then: What we call the internal responsibility system here in Canada and secondly, the training of mine workers and their supervisors.
MR. NICHOLS, JR.: Let me deal with the training first.
Every new underground miner in the U.S. is required to have 40 hours of new miner training and eight hours of annual refresher training. Every new surface miner is required to have 24 hours of new miner training and eight hours refresher training. Plus if contractors come on site, then there is required hazard training for those contractors.
As far as promoting labour-management relations, we do not have any direct responsibility for that but we try to have workshops, seminars, that kind of thing, to bring the entire mining community together to focus on a single issue and deal with it as a theme. As far as any direct input in trying to improve labour-management relations, we do not have anything.
NEW SPEAKER: As a follow-up to that, is there anything in your legislation which defines the role of the worker, defines the role of the supervisor, etc., in the workplace?
MR. NICHOLS, JR.: Yes. In all areas except one, the Mine Act holds the mine operator responsible for health and safety at that particular mine. The only direct action that MSHA can take against an employee is if an employee is found smoking underground in a gassy mine, a coal mine or something like that, but the mine operator has the entire responsibility for health and safety at that mining operation.
NEW SPEAKER: One final follow-up question please, on the follow-up training, the annual refresher training for the miners. What role does government have in determining what the content of that training is, the refresher training on the annual basis?
MR. NICHOLS, JR.: Some of it is spelled out in the Statute itself, what the refresher training will be. We try to help provide new training materials, statistical data on where the accidents are occurring, those kinds of things, primarily new training materials to keep the training fresh through our academy.
NEW SPEAKER: Mr. Nichols, I think in today's mining industry you can see, and you probably agree, that the industry is being stretched further and further, that more has to be done with less, and it has to be done better. The same thing is being done with regulatory agencies.
What do you see the industry having to do, and what do you see the regulatory agencies having to do to meet the challenges of the future? I think in a slide that was up on the screen a few moments ago, we saw that there has been some healthy reductions in injury frequencies, but also a disconcerting plateauing that we are seeing in other jurisdictions.
What do you see that both the industry and the regulatory agencies can do to deal with the pressures that we all feel as resources are being stretched?
MR. NICHOLS, JR.: I think certainly if we could reach a consensus on the issues and the more we could do as a team to work to solve those issues -- I can give you an example of a success story we just had with the non coal mining sector, or most of it, the aggregate sector in the U.S.
For almost 20 years there was a rider on MSHA's budget that prohibited us from enforcing training at these operations. With the leadership of the Assistant Secretary, labour, management, the agencies, all came together and developed a set of consensus regulations that would fit that industry. Those should be effective around the 1st of October. I think the more things we could do like that would work well.
In the end, I think there are some things that you cannot reach consensus on, that somebody has to go ahead and do, but the more team work, the better for everybody.
NEW SPEAKER: I have a follow-up question and observation, I guess, in relation to remote viewing in underground mines.
I represent a regulator from the east coast. We have some proponents who are suggesting that high wall mining techniques be used in the province. That mining uses remotely controlled and continuous miners that sort of go down to a thousand feet. They are suggesting that the technology for video signals to be sent back to an operator at the surface is in use.
I am not sure how well the technology works at this point in time, but there are some examples where that technology is being used in underground mines. It was just a follow-up comment to the question that was asked earlier.
MR. NICHOLS, JR.: Thank you. I was not aware of that.
MR. MARTIN (Canada): I see there are no more questions.
Thank you for the good presentation and the spirited discussion which took place afterwards.
DR. JUAN ANTONIO LEGASPI VELASCO (Director General, Seguridad e Higiene en el Trabajo, Secretaría del Trabajo y Previsión Social): Esta sesión simultánea se llama la realidad virtual. Tiene que ver con la evolución de la tecnología de la informática y la modificación a las prácticas del pasado y la finalidad de crear modelos de trabajo para ayudar a predecir impactos para las estrategias de prevención. Soy su servidor, el Dr. Juan Antonio Legaspi Velasco de la Delegación de México quien hará la moderación de esta sesión simultánea de la realidad virtual y tenemos como expositores el día de hoy al Sr. Bruce Dial de Estados Unidos y al Ing. Eduardo Estrada Magaña de México.
Antes de cederles la palabra y presentarlos, les diría yo que esta sesión está programada a 60 minutos y las presentaciones de los expositores tienen exactamente 30 minutos. Antes de que se les termine el tiempo, les haría una señal, dos minutos antes de que termine el tiempo para que puedan ustedes dar por concluida su exposición con el efecto de cumplir con el programa del tiempo establecido por la organización de este seminario. Habrá también preguntas y discusión de 30 minutos y después de que termine el segundo, estableceríamos este esquema de trabajo.
Le daríamos la palabra porque parece que ya está listo para iniciar su presentación al Sr. Bruce Dial, especialista en formación de la Academia Nacional para la Salud y Seguridad en las Minas del Departamento de Trabajo de los Estados Unidos. El Sr. Bruce Dial actualmente es supervisor de la sección de minería de superficie en la Academia Nacional para la Salud y Seguridad en la Minas. Empleado de la misma academia durante los últimos 21 años, ha inspeccionado propiedades mineras para la extracción de metales y no metales y del carbón y actualmente está en la Academia Nacional para la Salud y Seguridad en la Sociedad Internacional de Profesionales de Seguridad en las Minas y ha participado en numerosos comités como el de Nuevas Normas y frecuentemente está invitado a dar conferencias a grupos relacionados con esta materia de seguridad minera. Le pedimos al Sr. Bruce Dial que inicie su exposición.
MR. BRUCE DIAL (Training Specialist, National Mine Health & Safety Academy, U.S. Department of Labor): Thank you very much.
My name is Bruce Dial. I am an employee of the National Health & Safety Academy, located in Beckley, West Virginia. That is where we train all federal mine inspectors. Also, if you are ever in the area please stop by. If you would like to take some of the training that we do right along with our inspectors, you are more than welcome to that.
Since we have a short time today on this presentation, we are looking for ways that we can do training, individually and also as a group. This one program we have come up with here, this will not only do training but we can use it, we can put our own videos, our own words, our own questions in there for each site specific mine if we want to.
What you are looking at, this is what comes up when you first come on. The employee would enter their number, social security number, or whatever number you want. Then you would tell it to accept it. Then, they would put their first name and second name.
Later on, the managers can come back in here and download what worker has done what class, what was their score, which questions did they miss.
If your student has not been through this type of instruction before taking these tests, if you click on the "Yes" it will take him through how to use the mouse, when to accept the answer, how to change answers, that kind of thing. For the sake of time, we are going to go to the "No", and click on "No".
I am going to skip ahead.
As you can see, this is a front end loader operation training. Earlier you saw a little bit of a clip on videos. If you have a camera, you can go out and take your own pictures at your mine or take your own videos, and implant them into this program.
The one earlier, they had had a problem with the in-loader getting too close to the highwall, and the highwall came in on them. That is what they were talking about.
Here, we have broken the front end loader training into six different sections: Inspection, safe work practices, start-up, on-the-road, operation, and shutdown.
As the students get to this point, they would begin by the first lesson, Inspection. I am going to start on it.
This is the part we saw a while ago. We picked the inspection portion.
You could pretty much go through your checklist at your mine, and you could use your equipment by putting your pictures and stuff in there. So you can go through each phase of it.
This is where the student first gets involved.
We are going to click on the tire as the area of inspection.
If I click on any other part of the loader, it is going to give me a little talk about what you are supposed to be looking for and what it should do. For example, I am going to click on the dipper.
You could also check on the owner's manual, the hydraulics, the cab, the back up part, the inside. All of this will give them a little safety talk. I am skipping through these pretty quick.
Now it is going to give him a test.
This would be one of the questions. The person taking the training has to decide which answer is the best. We are going to click on Operator's Manual.
I am going to answer this question wrong intentionally, to show you when a person taking the course gives them a wrong answer, they get immediate feedback to what the right answer should be. So I am going to tell them he does not need to check the Operator's Manual.
On this particular one, it has more than one answer. They would select all of the ones that would apply in this situation.
It should be "daily".
This time we have two correct answers: It's full of acid, it gives off an explosive gas.
It tells him, you answered one or more questions incorrectly. So not only did we get the feedback when we first answered it incorrectly, now it is going to take us back over it again.
Does anybody have the answer? You saw it twice. It was "both of the above".
Here is a summary of what the student did. That student, with that number and that name, on this date took this portion of the course. They had six questions, on which they got a quiz score of 83, but on a reduced score they got 100.
So the management can tap into this information without the students being able to get into it. Management can get into it with some passwords, and they will have a record of who took the training, what did they miss, did they pass it, things like that. So it is very hands-on.
Again, you can change any picture, any words, any video, anything like that in this system that would pertain to your mark. Many of the things you see on this pertain to the operation of loaders, like maintenance. Being a safety organization, we would do more in safety, like how to check the back-up alarm, things like that.
This one particular CD goes on for several hours, all through the other five sections of front end loader operation. I think my time is about up.
Get in touch with me at the Academy. My name and number and all that is in your information. I will be glad to help you out any way I can. Thank you very much.
DR. LEGASPI VELASCO: Vamos a escuchar ahora al Ing. Eduardo Estrada Magaña que es Superintendente de Seguridad e Higiene Industrial del Consorcio Minero Benito Juárez, Peña Colorada, S.A. de C.V. que se encuentra en la ciudad de Manzanillo, Colima. El Ing. es originario de esa ciudad, ha realizado estudios profesionales de ingeniería industrial en el Tecnológico Regional de Colima y trabaja desde 1983 en ese Consorcio Minero de Peña Colorada y ha desempeñado diversos cargos en el área de recursos humanos, seguridad industrial. Actualmente, como comunicamos es superintendente en múltiples seminarios y conferencias y es miembro de los Consejos Consultivos estatales de Seguridad e Higiene de la Secretaría del Trabajo y Previsión Social del sector minero del Estado de Colima y miembro de la Comisión de Seguridad de la Cámara Minera de México. Con ustedes, el Ingeniero Eduardo Estrada.
ING. EDUARDO ESTRADA MAGAÑA: Muy buenas tardes tengan todos ustedes, antes que nada quiero agradecer a los organizadores de este evento por darnos la oportunidad de compartir con ustedes nuestras experiencias al intercambiar las mismas.
En el transcurso de esta ponencia titulada "Manual Maestro de Seguridad e Higiene Industrial en Peña Colorada" les explicaremos los cambios y adaptaciones que tuvimos que realizar en nuestro sistema de seguridad e higiene industrial, considerando las normas internacionales en materia de calidad y las normas nacionales de seguridad e higiene.
Peña Colorada está localizada en la parte occidente de la República Mexicana. Dedicada a la exploración, explotación y beneficio del mineral de hierro, cuenta con dos instalaciones, la primera el yacimiento y la planta de molienda y concentración en el municipio de Minatitlán, Colima. La segunda con dos plantas peletizadoras y oficinas generales en el municipio de Manzanillo, Colima, ambas con una capacidad de 3.5 millones de toneladas de pelets por año.
La fuerza de trabajo de Peña Colorada es de 884 trabajadores hasta la fecha, siendo 228 empleados y 656 operarios. El modelo de calidad total en Peña Colorada está orientado a la satisfacción del consumidor y su sistema de superamiento de calidad está basado en la norma British Standard 1002.
El modelo de calidad total está integrado por cinco elementos: el elemento de calidad considerada la competitividad en el mercado y está orientado a la mejora continua del pelet, al desarrollo de los proveedores y al servicio del cliente.
El elemento recurso humano está dirigido a fortalecer la administración de la calidad total a través del desarrollo del recurso humano.
El elemento costo está orientado a la reducción y control del costo de acuerdo a los requerimientos de nuestro mercado.
El elemento de seguridad está orientado a salvaguardar la integridad física de los trabajadores quienes representan el recurso más valioso de nuestra empresa.
El elemento medio ambiente y comunidad está dirigido a reducir y controlar el impacto ecológico de las operaciones y cumplir con los requerimientos legales.
Para la conceptualización e interpretación de la normatividad nacional e internacional en materia de calidad y seguridad e higiene en el trabajo, nos planteamos una estrategia de seguridad e higiene industrial, para la prevención de accidentes y daños al personal, equipo, maquinaria y medio ambiente. Atravesando todos los conceptos legales y contractuales aplicados a nuestra empresa.
Siendo normas BSI en ISO 9000 e ISO 9004, versión 2, se revisó el contenido de cada una de ellas y se consideraron los elementos aplicados a nuestra empresa. Para efectos de esta presentación, veremos algunos puntos que consideramos los más importantes en el desarrollo de este documento.
El objetivo general es el de contar con un documento que sea la base del sistema de aseguramiento de la seguridad e higiene en Peña Colorada, estableciendo políticas, responsabilidades y lineamientos con el fin de implementar la administración del sistema de seguridad e higiene industrial.
Los objetivos específicos están orientados a lograr la participación y compromiso de todo el personal para que desarrolle una conducta de trabajo segura, contribuya en la prevención de accidentes y daños para crear y mantener un medio ambiente de trabajo sano y seguro y contribuya en la productividad de la empresa mediante la prevención de los riesgos de trabajo.
El documento en referencia está fundamentalmente soportado en base a los criterios de ISO 9002 e 9004 y por las leyes, reglamentos y normas oficiales mexicanas en materia de seguridad e higiene y de protección al medio ambiente.
Para el propósito de este manual son aplicables las definiciones contenidas en las leyes, reglamentos y normas oficiales mexicanas e internacionales en materia de seguridad e higiene industrial, la misión de seguridad e higiene industrial en Peña Colorada es la prevención de riesgos de trabajo ocasionados por causas especiales y comunes a través de la implantación y cumplimiento de políticas, normas y procedimientos en materia de seguridad e higiene.
Las causas especiales son aquellas causas que los trabajadores puedan corregir, por ejemplo, usar una herramienta inadecuada, no usar el equipo de protección personal, no colocar las guardas y dispositivos de seguridad del equipo y maquinaria.
Como causas comunes son por ejemplo pisos defectuosos, falta de entrenamiento, diseños incorrectos, falta de políticas concretas, falta de mantenimiento, etc.
La filosofía de seguridad e higiene industrial en Peña Colorada en su punto de responsabilidad directiva define la obligación y responsabilidad de todo el personal para salvaguardar y mantener las instalaciones en condiciones de trabajo seguras, saludables y eficientes que garanticen la integridad del recurso más valioso para lograr los objetivos de la empresa: el recurso humano.
Como política general, todo el personal de la empresa es responsable de su integridad física y de los recursos que tiene asignado a su cargo, trabajando y promoviendo toda actividad tendiente a prevenir accidentes y daños.
La Dirección General de Peña Colorada otorga a los directores del área, la más amplia autoridad para que la función de seguridad se logre en cada actividad y se garantice su efectividad, para tal efecto el comité SIPC está integrado por personal que fue designado por el Consejo Directivo para la implantación y mantenimiento de este sistema, motivo por el cual el comité SIPC coordina todos los planes, programas y actividades en materia de seguridad e higiene industrial tendientes a la prevención de accidentes y daños.
Este comité cuenta con el soporte de cuatro organizaciones internas, brigadas de emergencia, comisiones de seguridad e higiene, coordinadores de análisis de seguridad en áreas, equipos y trabajos y los equipos de mejora en proyectos específicos.
Estas organizaciones están integradas por personal interdisciplinario que está directamente involucrado en los puntos de operación del proceso que generan reglas de trabajo o que tienen que ver con el cumplimiento de las disposiciones legales en materia de seguridad e higiene.
Peña Colorada cuenta con un plan de emergencias para proteger la integridad física de los trabajadores y su familia, auxiliar a la comunidad y salvaguardar el patrimonio contra riesgos del proceso productivo o provocados por fenómenos naturales. Tiene bajo su mando a los coordinadores generales de la brigada del área mina y de área peletizado con la asesoría de un "staff".
La brigada de emergencia del área mina cuenta con dos coordinaciones, una coordinación técnica que es la columna vertebral de la brigada y la otra es la coordinación administrativa.
La coordinación técnica coordina los grupos de rescate, salvamento, bomberos, seguridad radiológica, transportes explosivos, primeros auxilios y apoyo técnico.
El área administrativa coordina los grupos de seguridad y orden, comunicaciones, abastecimientos y albergues.
La brigada de emergencia del área peletizado es de igual estructura organizacional a la del área mina, excepto que en ésta, se excluye el grupo de explosivos.
En la fase de roles y funciones se diseñó una matriz para la asignación de las funciones por puesto, de tal forma que la autoridad y responsabilidad del personal que administra, ejecuta y verifica el trabajo relacionado con la prevención de accidentes y daños al personal, equipo, maquinaria y medio ambiente esté bien definida, a fin de que las acciones que se realicen estén enfocadas a la prevención de accidentes y daños, identifiquen y documenten cualquier problema relacionado con la seguridad e higiene e inicien, recomienden o den soluciones a través de canales designados y efectúen seguimiento al desarrollo de la solución de los problemas que se presenten.
El sistema de seguridad e higiene industrial en Peña Colorada está integrado por aquellos elementos interdependientes, tales como la estructura organizacional, planes, programas, procedimientos, etc. que influyen directa o indirectamente en la seguridad e higiene industrial en las diferentes etapas de los procesos productivos.
El propósito del sistema de aseguramiento de seguridad e higiene industrial es garantizar la protección del personal, equipo, maquinaria anual de Procedimientos Generales, Reglamento General de Seguridad e Higiene Industrial, Manual de Procedimientos Técnicos y Manual de Normas.
Una de las partes importantes es el control de las operaciones, dado que aquí se tienen asignados tanto el control de la operación como la inspección y prueba del cumplimento de las normas oficiales mexicanas, se asigna la responsabilidad para cada área de trabajo, las cuales están enfocadas a la elaboración y soporte de toda la documentación requerida para el cumplimiento de las disposiciones legales, se tiene que evidenciar el cumplimiento de las siguientes operaciones, así como la inspección y prueba de todos los dispositivos de seguridad y del equipo de medición en los siguientes rubros: prevención, protección y combate contra incendio, recipientes sujetos a presión, operación y mantenimiento de maquinaria y equipo, instalaciones eléctricas, uso y manejo de herramientas, manejo, transporte y almacenamiento de materiales en general y material y sustancias químicas peligrosas, ruido y vibraciones, radiaciones y ionizantes y electromagnéticas no ionizantes, sustancias químicas contaminantes, sólidas, líquidas y gaseosas, condiciones térmicas del medio ambiente de trabajo, iluminación y ventilación industrial, equipo de protección personal, comisiones de seguridad e higiene, avisos y estadísticas de accidentes y enfermedades de trabajo, programas de seguridad e higiene en el trabajo, capacitación y adiestramiento, registros de control por turno del personal, riesgos de trabajo, primeros auxilios, operación y control de obras e instalaciones durante el proceso de ampliación y exploración de cada unidad minera, excavación y carga, instrucciones técnicas para cada máquina o equipo móvil, servicios preventivos de medicina del trabajo, comedores industriales y protección industrial.
En la etapa de acciones correctivas y preventivas, cualquier acción correctiva o preventiva tomada para eliminar las causas de las inconformidades actuales o potenciales debe ser de un grado apropiado a la magnitud de los problemas y proporcional con los riesgos encontrados y deberá considerar investigar las causas de las inconformidades relacionadas con la seguridad e higiene o con el sistema de aseguramiento de la seguridad o higiene, definir y ejecutar las acciones correctivas preventivas para evitar su reincidencia.
Segundo, analizar los procesos, operaciones de trabajo, registros de seguridad, reportes y quejas del personal con el propósito de detectar y eliminar las causas potenciales de las inconformidades.
Tercero, evidenciar los problemas mayores de seguridad industrial con base a su impacto o riesgo potencial, y por último, actualizar los procedimientos como resultado de las acciones correctivas y preventivas.
La responsabilidad de la aplicación de las acciones tanto correctivas como preventivas es de todos los involucrados en la administración de este sistema.
Uno de los puntos más importantes dentro de cualquier sistema son las auditorías, las cuales deberán ser efectuadas periódicamente para verificar la implantación y efectividad de un sistema. Las cuales deben ser planeadas, ejecutadas y registradas de conformidad con los procedimientos documentados por el personal competente y que sea independiente de las actividades específicas que están siendo auditivas. Los hallazgos de las auditorías deben ser documentados y revisados por la alta administración quienes verificarán que se tomen las apropiadas y necesarias acciones correctivas en respuesta a estos hallazgos.
Es muy importante evaluar la implantación efectiva de las acciones correctivas resultado de estas auditorías previas.
Conclusiones, los elementos del control de calidad de administración de control total de pérdidas, los cuales determinan el desempeño de seguridad o sea se reflejan los accidentes y las causas de los accidentes. Cuando empleamos los índices de frecuencia, de gravedad o de sinistralidad para evaluar el desempeño de seguridad no estamos en realidad midiendo la seguridad del sistema, sino los errores que hay en éste, estos valores no deberán emplearse como parámetro de medición del desempeño de seguridad ya que los accidentes y daños son hechos, errores que deterioran la calidad y que deben de eliminarse del sistema, lo que se debe medir es la calidad del sistema y no la calidad de los resultados.
Por su atención, muchas gracias.
Question Period - Période de questions - Período de Preguntas
DR. LEGASPI VELASCO: Bien ha sido una sesión corta, rápida y sustanciosa y tenemos tiempo para la sesión de preguntas y respuestas. Hemos escuchado dos esquemas que evidentemente tienen que ver con la prevención de los accidentes y enfermedades de trabajo, Bruce nos presentó el uso de la tecnología para la capacitación de los trabajadores a efecto de que prevengan accidentes de trabajo y el Ingeniero Estrada nos presenta un modelo de trabajo que evidentemente tiene que usar la tecnología informática para la prevención igualmente de accidentes de trabajo.
El objetivo finalmente es no tener accidentes de trabajo. Tenemos tiempo para una sesión de preguntas, no sé si hubiera algún comentario que hacer también de la mesa, estarían los dos expositores con mucho gusto para aclarar, ampliar algunas expectativas. El Ing. Estrada tiene la palabra.
ING. ESTRADA MAGAÑA: Nosotros también tenemos equipo móvil en la presentación de capacitación virtual que el compañero expuso y quisiera hacerle la pregunta de que si también tiene algunos temas dirigidos al operador porque únicamente viene la capacitación dirigida al equipo.
MR. DIAL: Yes. This session that I showed you here, we can gear it to any phase of mining. Being a safety agency, we tend to go for safety-wise first, but as far as training mechanics or operators or anything like that, it can be done also.
NEW SPEAKER: Bruce, this question is for you.
Being from the United States, I am going to toot Bruce's horn a little bit, because he has not done it enough.
The Academy that they have in Beckley, West Virginia, is probably one of the finest facilities in the whole world, not just in the United States. I have attended two classes there, took my mine rescue team through their simulator there. It is an excellent facility, and they fill a much needed void in our training in the United States.
You have my interest up a whole lot with your program today, and I would like to ask you, is it available now to us?
MR. DIAL: It is not available through MSHA. We hope by the end of this year, through December, we will have a program available.
The technology and all the information of course is not copyrighted by the federal government, so there are companies out there that have taken it and put out their own product.
NEW SPEAKER: Does it look like it is going to take a lot of special software, or are we going to be able as –
MR. DIAL: The one that we hope to have out by the end of December is on what we call a DVD. It will have a whole five days of haulage safety on one CD-ROM. It will include all our videos, all our standards, all the regulations, and about 2,000 pictures. It will be in eight different languages. Hopefully we will have it out by the end of the year, which will be available through the Academy at that time.
NEW SPEAKER: That would be real good to get ready for a refresher.
MR. DIAL: Right.
NEW SPEAKER: Thank you.
NEW SPEAKER: Creo que lo que acaba de comentar Bruce, relacionado con la existencia de 300 programas de capacitación virtual, creo que puede ser un excelente apoyo y ayuda para la industria minera de los tres países. De acuerdo a lo que acaba de comentar Bruce para diciembre estaría disponible este esquema de capacitación y quizás a través de las oficinas administrativas del Acuerdo de Cooperación Laboral pudieran hacer una comunicación para efectos de que puedan ser adquiridos o en su caso solicitados estos instrumentos muy valiosos. Creo que el mundo actual moderno debe de utilizar más estos esquemas de capacitación a través de la tecnología de los OBS virtuales dado que es el instrumento que permite ver con mayor precisión lo que debe de hacer la gente.
Yo le preguntaría en relación a este esquema, hay algunos programas que se hayan desarrollado en algunas empresas de las que usted haya visitado en donde existe la señalización a través de un vídeo para después del curso que el trabajador ya en la práctica haga el trabajo, se le filme y después de esto se le dé a conocer lo que hizo bien y lo que hizo mal. Existe algún programa de esta naturaleza.
MR. DIAL: In addition, MSHA is looking at buying a simulator just like they use to train airplane pilots. We are going to use them to train off-road truck drivers. It will simulate how accidents can happen.
You were asking could it videotape. In fact, if you put a VCR tape in there it will record everything that they do during that time. So you can create different situations, like fog or rain or ice on the road. You can create other vehicles that are going to pull out in front of it, things like that, to train people on what to do in emergencies. For example, if they are going down a grade at the mine, they lose their brakes; what are they supposed to do? Hardly any operators out there are trained in that aspect. So they will learn what to do in the simulator, and they do not have to put a two million dollar truck in danger or themselves in danger to learn.
That will be coming up probably next year some time.
DR. LEGASPI VELASCO: Muchas gracias Bruce, creo que es muy interesante lo que nos ha platicado sobre lo que está haciendo la Academia relacionado con este aspecto de seguridad e higiene en el área de minería. No sé si exista alguna otra pregunta o comentario.
NEW SPEAKER: Thank you very much, sir. I have a question for any one of the three up on the panel.
Is there any opportunities here of any of us putting training programs directly on the Internet so that they would be very broadly available throughout North America? We have seen an excellent example of an interactive training program and an excellent presentation by Dr. Estrada on processes that are set up within a particular facility.
I am curious as to whether the Internet might be used as a vehicle for training.
MR. DIAL: Very much so. The program like you just saw, I don't know if it will be available on the Internet, because it takes so much memory. It will probably be available through a CD-ROM that you order through the Internet or right from the Academy.
Many of the Power Point programs and things like that that we have on certain topics, they will be available through the Internet. Just memory is our biggest problem right now.
NEW SPEAKER: I was wondering, with the training video that you showed us, what kind of experience do you have with retention of workers, of people trained, over time on that?
We do a fair amount of training, not so much in the mining sector but in the chemical sector and all, and understand -- actually, a lot of it is worker based training, where workers are trained to train other workers. Our measurements show a pretty good retention over the course of a year or two.
One of the concerns that has been expressed about some of the video training is that the retention times can be much shorter.
MR. DIAL: The retention times on the people who have taken this training, when they first start off it is not that good, because they are too worried about getting the right answers and they know people are going to be checking on it.
Once they get through the first couple of sessions, they start to adapt to it. They get more comfortable with it. They know if they do miss one, they are going to get a chance to correct it later, so they begin to feel more comfortable with it, which means they learn more. Another aspect is if they do get a wrong answer, they don't have to worry while they are listening to the next one if that one is wrong. It will give you immediate feedback that you were wrong on that one, and here is the right answer.
We found that sometimes if you will take four or five people at once and let them all go together through the first couple of lessons, then when they pick it up by themselves on the other lessons they seem to work better that way. It has not been out that long to really test any long range retention.
DR. LEGASPI VELASCO: Muy bien, ¿algún comentario, otra pregunta? Parecería que las explicaciones dadas y realmente lo interesante de las presentaciones pues nos da oportunidad de penetrar a otros esquemas de trabajo que nos ayuden a prevenir accidentes de trabajo en la industria minera. Dado de que ya no existe ningún comentario, pues no me queda más que agradecerles a ustedes su presencia y agradecer al Sr. Bruce su presentación y al Ing. Estrada también su ponencia y señalarles a ustedes que en esta sala alrededor de las 4 de la tarde está la sesión general sobre planificación de medidas de urgencia y el rescate en la mina, por lo cual les invitaríamos a que regresáramos después de tomar un descanso y un café en el mezzanine en la parte superior. Muchas gracias.
MR. WILLIAM POMROY (Industrial Hygienist, Mine Safety and Health Administration, US Department of Labour): My name is Bill Pomroy, from the Mine Safety and Health Administration in the United States. I will be the moderator for this session, in which we will be discussing Remote Mining Technologies.
We have three excellent presentations this afternoon. The first will be delivered by Malcolm Scoble, who is the Head of the Department of Mining and Mineral Process Engineering at the University of British Columbia. Dr. Scoble.
DR. MALCOLM SCOBLE (Head, Department of Mining and Mineral Process Engineering, University of British Columbia): Thank you very much.
My perspective in this talk is really as a mining engineer. I just realized, coming here yesterday, that it was 33 years ago that I landed in Winnipeg as a fresh young naive mining engineer coming from England, and immediately headed north to Snow Lake to start my mining career. So it is kind of nostalgic to be standing here with the passage of time so quickly having gone by.
As a mining engineer, the perspective I bring to remote mining is that of an integrator and trying to make it work. I will essentially try not to be necessarily too technical in the presentation. "Remote Mining Opportunities and Challenges" is the theme of what I am going to talk about.
If I were asked, I would perhaps say that "remote mining" is the control by an operator of mobile machines, for example, loaders, trucks and stationary equipment, perhaps part of the infrastructure of the mine, the pumps and the fans, etc.
From a significant distance, I think we probably are all looking now not necessarily at line of sight remote control, the close-in, short-range control, but we are looking now at moving farther away from the actual site of the mining itself when we now talk about remote mining. We are using this now in a wide array of different applications: drilling and blasting, materials handling, the support processes of transport, ventilation, drainage, ground control, etc.
What is the status of remote mining? From my own personal perspective, I think that over the next decade we are going to see the practical and the widespread implementation of remote mining technology, after over a decade of persistent research and development on the part of a relatively few dedicated players. Those players have been both from mining, manufacturing and technology companies, the government, and a few universities.
Automation technology is moving upstream from manufacturing to the mill, and it has already had a big impact on milling operations, and next it is coming to the mine. The technology transfer and the implementation is probably the hardest task which is only just now starting. The next few years will be a challenging period of what I think is unavoidable change.
The main Canadian players that have been on the scene, I would pick out, if asked to, INCO, Noranda, Cameco, Potash Corporation of Saskatchewan, Syncrude. They have been committed now to developing R&D for well over a decade. The manufacturers have their role, although you will see in this limited list that there is not essentially a large Canadian manufacturer, although Canadian technology companies I think are well-represented and have been working away hard at the technology: Automated Mining Systems, Nautilus International Ltd., El Equip Ltd., Aquila Mining Systems Ltd. and Tanco, and CANMET has been trying to promote the development of the technology, together with federally funded PRECARN, which is a research group, and some universities.
Let's turn first to underground automation technology and just a review of where we are. I am focusing in this talk really on hard rock. There have been an awful lot of advances made in soft rock. I know the presentation from the American speaker subsequently is going to be looking more at coal. Potash in particular in this country is well mechanized and down the road of mechanization. I am just going to focus on hard rock.
Here we are in an underground environment. It is one of the INCO underground mines in the Sudbury area, and we are looking at a LHD and over, ahead of the LHD, you can see what is called lightrope. This is strung from the back and is the means by which the vehicle, using either a camera at the front or at the rear, is able to get a video image of where the lightrope is with respect to its position and, using the on-board computer, steer itself.
There is a radio antenna here which gives us a wireless link to a leaky feeder communication system which runs out to a road band system and goes up the shaft and out of the mine. This is a vehicle that is being remotely operated and monitored from surface at one of the INCO mines.
And here is a slide that I have borrowed straight out of a presentation of INCO's Mine Research Department Manager, Greg Bayton. It explains INCO's viewpoint on where they are going to next. They have patented this approach, that they are now calling Tele-mining. Essentially it is based on the capability from a surface control room that is where they prefer to see it at this point in time, control operations being centred.
From this operations centre at their Stobie Mine, an operator controlling via video underground, three-drills at different locations underground. These are data solo up-hole drills in sub-level cave-in operations.
This is the viewpoint from INCO. To use this quotation from their perspective, "tele-mining is the long-distance remote control of all our mining equipment". That means the combinations of operation software, a control room, telecommunications and the mining machinery itself.
Tele-mining will allow us to enhance mine value through mining rate increases and quality improvements.
This again is a slide from Greg of what is a very recent development in Sudbury. It is what they are calling their mini-mine operations centre. It is in their main engineering building on surface and they have communications links out to, at this point in time, three mines: a test mine, a craton, which is a very large underground operation, a traditional operating mine, and the Stobie mine.
From this operating centre, people are coming to work everyday and routinely operating various forms of mobile machinery underground. A new prototype mapping machine that actually surveys drifts and tunnels, an automated diamond drill, three up-hole data solo drills those are the pictures I showed you before. That is Stobie, together with three LHDs, and a craton. They are just building up another fleet of LHDs that are being operated from the control centre.
Turning to surface technology, and again I am just looking at hard rock operations, but here is an example of a more laid-back approach but a very successful one, at the Cyprus Serietta Mine in the States, where the company invested $50,000 in retrofitting a caterpillar 992 front-end loader, actually operating it by line of sight remote control. This is about eight years ago. That $50,000 investment netted a million and a half dollars of ore which otherwise they would not have been able to mine, because they are at the base of the ultimate pit limit and they were very concerned about slope stability.
So this is an excellent example of the benefits to come very much in a safety sense within a mine environment from remote control. But in a sense I always think it is surprising that there are not more applications of remote control in this less complicated environment. They have also used the machine under remote control for cleaning up (inaudible) failures and dealing with instability issues on their walls.
We have been looking at dispatch and, if you like, the movement towards control systems within surface mines for many years now. We have always had that capability to use wireless communications to the mobile equipment down in the pit.
We have usually seen, in big pits, the usage of truck dispatch systems, but the movement on forward to automation and remote control really needed a jog, and that came along a few years ago with the advent of GPS. What that now enables us to do is to plug in to technology straight off the shelf and fix or locate, in space, all of our pieces of equipment with some very precise capabilities. This is really now spurring a renewed interest by the surface mining community in systems that are coming forward and being marketed now by Caterpillar, and Kamatsu in particular.
Now, what is maybe perhaps at this point in time a futuristic viewpoint is that the automated mine of the future is maybe some way down in a distance, but Kamatsu and Caterpillar are already running prototype systems. It is really in their hands I think as much as any as to whether this technology which is, if you like, remote control from afar, whether that comes to fruition in the near future.
The concept here is that we are able to communicate to what are robotic trucks without operators in them, and because of the fact that they have GPS receivers, we are able to track their precise location in real time. Then we create, depending upon system safety, a virtual beacon, or zones, which control their movements.
So traffic control and system safety become very much prime issues in situations like this. We are not there yet, but certainly the manufacturers and some mining companies are beginning to look seriously at that.
Going back now to INCO again is an example. Here we have an underground mining company. Let me try to explain to you what this is.
This is a graph, running back from the late 1800s through to 2012, and we are currently sitting at this point here. Again, this is a slide that I borrowed from INCO. Their viewpoint is that back in the early days of mining when it was a craft, very much a labour intensive occupation, we were at low productivity levels of what would have been a thousand tons per person-year.
With the advent of the end of the war with mechanization and economies of scale, that was pretty well doubled, and then very much more recently, as we come up through the 70s into the 80s, it has been able to achieve this level of productivity on the basis of both mining methods and newer machinery technology.
What it is looking for with the tele-mining technology to really give it this competitive edge, is to boost productivity to levels approaching 8,000 tons per person-year. So that is a main driver in their viewpoint on health and safety.
I am having a lot of trouble here with these slides, they seem to be deforming I'm afraid.
Opportunities in health and safety. First, to improve health and safety by removing the miner from the hazardous working environment. I think that is something that is clearly achievable. Also we can deal, in remote mining, with issues such as heat, humidity, wet working places, stressed or weak ground, radioactivity, and emergency response.
Another opportunity here with remote mining is to provide more fulfillment for the miner in a more intellectually stimulating, responsible and diverse role. I know that sounds very flowery and fuzzy, but I think there is a real opportunity here to drive a control shift in the very nature of mining as an occupation.
In the future, I think technology development is going to be striving to increase the distance of separation. Already we are working, operating or controlling equipment from surface to underground. We have demonstrated the ability to control machines underground in Sudbury from locations in Toronto, and that is likely to increase.
These machines are going to become more independent, more intelligent with time, and they will be more capable of a greater degree of scope of control. We will be employing machines by remote control that will be involved in ground control, drilling and blasting, and we will be operating potentially more than one mine from one control centre. That is INCO's perspective at this point in time, that you have a regional control centre with the control of more than a mine, if that is the environment that you are in.
This is one of the challenges in the road forward and that is the one of ergonomics, the interface between the operators and the work environment that they come to.
Another challenge is system safety. We are looking here at the North Parks Mine in Australia and the control system that has been set up by Nautilus. Essentially, the problems come around when you have access required to underground working areas by both people and their vehicles and remote control of automated equipment. It is that interface which causes some concern. In this case, in the Australian mine, the control room is actually underground, on the main level of a block caving operation.
Challenges, in terms of skills and training. It may well be that an operator comes to work each day and as part of that shift, he is operating different types of machines, perhaps operating a drill for a period of time and then maybe a loader. Versatility perhaps would be in that case the name of the game. Maybe more than one machine, this is currently being done, one person operating several machines.
It may be that at one point in time during the shift you are operating one manufacturer's machine and then switching over to another manufacturer. So the size, the geometry, brake capacity, speed, etc, this may well create some complications.
Also it is being talked about that a miner coming to work and operating equipment, will turn to and work on perhaps design work. So that we are looking at perhaps a breed or generation of technicians as much as traditional mine operating staff.
What will happen in the future when people are operating this equipment who have never actually in real life operated such machines? At this point in time, these prototype systems are being operated by people who have actually been physically operating those machines in the past.
There are all kinds of audiovisualists that we need to be concerned about as well, whether we provide sound, video assistance, and this subject, and Virtual Reality, which is the subject of the parallel session that we are looking at, at this point in time.
I see social challenges, impact on the community and employment levels as issues. We have an aging workforce, and demographics is an important element here. The workforce motivation and working in partnership will be extremely important.
Change management and what is about to take place will be critical. The operator acceptance is something, as well as the technology trends for mechanisms that are adopted, the receptive capacity of the industry to actually integrate a lot of this technology effectively, and something that is already becoming quite evident in discussions at this conference, what is the role of regulations and change in time, and this cultural shift, which is the title of the conference.
In conclusion, just looking at opportunities, remote mining provides the capability to enhance competitiveness and health and safety. It also gives us the opportunity really to reconsider, re-engineer the whole mining business process. We can integrate information and the data that in real time now we are going to be capturing from all of this machinery. And we could grow a high-tech mining sector. That is a potential capability for Canada at this point in time.
Key challenges are ergonomics, system safety, training, social issues, change management. Just a final shot. It is very important I think in what is going to be taking place that we just simply do not focus on the operational aspects of production.
We also should be looking at integrating ground control and environmental control into a much more complete and total, if you like, mining control system, and we should be looking at technology to use it itself to prepare our human resources for the onset of this change.
If we can be smart and be intelligent in our mining, that is that kind of success really that will still be based on people, and training and technology for training is something we should not forget.
Will we, or technology, drive the new mining health and safety culture? At this point in time, perhaps one might argue that technology is pushing us and we are not finding enough time to develop what really should be the kind of strategy that should direct the technology development.
That is totally illegible, but was a set of names of people I was acknowledging who helped me put this together. And that says, thank you very much, or muchas gracias.
Question Period - Période de questions - Período de Preguntas
MR. POMROY: We have time for a few questions for Dr. Scoble.
NEW SPEAKER: Thank you. Two points. My first one is not a question, Malcolm, but an illustration of the effect of what I call tele-remote operation on health and safety.
I have been associated with a large underground mine in Indonesia, working by block caving with very high rainfall, four metres of rain per year. Consequently, they have a wet muck problem underground, where the surface water is draining through to the draw points.
They had a significant number of fatal accidents to miners being caught by mud rushes until the inspectors of the Republic put their feet down and said, look, you have to do something about it.
The first short-term answer was to put steel blinds on the cabs of the vehicles and an oxygen bottle inside the cab. This was just a short-term solution while they implemented some Australian technology, which is very much parallel to what you are talking about here. And now, all of these wet muck draw points are being operated with front-end loaders, LHDs, on what I call tele-remote. There was radio carried remote signals. The local miners have taken to this literally like ducks to water, or like kids to video games, and it has really helped their safety issue. That was my comment, my illustration of one of your points.
The other point I would like to make is, we have been using line of sight remote units for 15 years in hard rock mines of Canada, and initially -- let us learn from this, because we have had some terrible accidents involving remote control units where people did not think through, or did not make their safety rules to fit with the complexities of remote control units and forgot about some of the basics.
As we move forward into this new era of control room operation, of machines and the North Park situation where you have multiple vehicles moving in an area, we really have to study the systems and the interactions to the systems and think about what we are doing so that we do not introduce different safety concerns, different causes of accidents and fatalities. Thank you.
DR. SCOBLE: I thing your last point is particularly important, because in all of the research and development that has been going on, there has been very little attention paid to actually reshaping the mining methods themselves, and why on earth should they be necessarily identical to what they have been in the last two decades?
So a fresh look from -- you know, benefiting from the experience of the recent past in terms of remote control is something that would be highly-recommended. I mean, I cannot but stress that. We have, and the point I tried to make, a real opportunity to re-engineer the whole of the mining process, and it need not necessarily be along the principles that it has been in the past. Safety obviously is a prime consideration in trying to re-shape the way we mine.
MR. POMROY: We have time for another brief question.
NEW SPEAKER: I was just curious about the point about what are we going to do when we have operators who no longer have operated the equipment underground?
When I look at our youth coming up and how capable they are with remote systems already, I wonder how everyone feels about the fact that I am sure we can take any 10-year old kid in the industry, any one of our sons, and give them a remote scoop and he can run it.
DR. SCOBLE: You may well be right there. I just feel that there is probably some very real value for the people that are operating equipment right now from all those years of hard labour and backache, that they learned the hard way of, if you like, the ultimate way to use the equipment. But it is probably nothing to worry about, as you indicate there.
MR. POMROY: Please join me in thanking Dr. Scoble for the presentation.
Our next speaker, from Mexico, is Juan Emilio Peña Burciaga for Industrial Minera México.
MR. JUAN EMILIO PEÑA BURCIAGA (Subdirector de Seguridad, Industrial Minera México, S.A. de C.V.): Al abordar este tema de la minería a distancia resulta difícil sustraerse a la tentación de recordar cómo ha progresado la explotación de las minas metalizas subterráneas al paso del tiempo.
Si nos remontamos a la época de la conquista de la Nueva España, el descubrimiento de minas de oro y plata era la gran preocupación de los conquistadores en los primeros años de su dominación.
A eso tendían todas sus investigaciones y en cualquier entrada, como se llamaba entonces a las conquistas en el interior del país, el cuidado del jefe de la expedición era enviar soldados a los lugares de los cuales se tenía noticias que había algún mineral.
Y tanto fue así, que llegó a confundirse el campamento de las tropas con el de los trabajadores de las minas, y Real se llamaba la población formada en un mineral como Real se llamó al campamento de una tropa.
Los principales distritos mineros fueron descubiertos por los capitanes que mandaban las expediciones militares y esas expediciones no detenían su marcha ni creían haber hecho nada de provecho en tanto no se encontraran minas.
Los informes que al Rey y a Cortés se enviaban de las exploraciones de la Nueva España contenían siempre como punto principal la noticia de si había minas o no, considerándose como inútil conquista aquélla de donde no podía sacarse metales preciosos.
En la explotación a grande escala de los minerales de oro y plata, emplearon a los vencidos, la especulación debía ser por fuerza productiva a pesar de los pocos conocimientos que en el beneficio de la plata tenían los mineros españoles.
Como a los operadores indios no les pagaban jornal alguno, si se cuidaba de su alimentación, ni tenía importancia la muerte de muchos de ellos porque eran sustituidos inmediatamente por otros.
El rudo trabajo de las minas causó graves enfermedades y mortalidad entre los indios, los caminos y los alrededores de estas negociaciones llegaron a verse cubiertos de cadáveres y osamentas de indios muertos por el hambre y la fatiga, al extremo que apenas se podía pasar, - dice el Fraile Motolinía - sino hombres muertos o sobre huesos.
El abuso de los mineros españoles se cortó gracias a las disposiciones del Rey y a la energía con que los virreyes que gobernaban a la Nueva España en el siglo XVI se empeñaron en hacerles cumplir.
El paso de los años ha dado grande avances en la explotación de las minas, pero ningún siglo ha sido tan innovador como el que está por concluir.
Veamos algunos de estos avances, en la época de la colonia se profundizaron algunos tiros, los cuales tienen un diámetro que excede a los 10 metros, esta dimensión era obligada porque en ellos se instalaba una escalera de caracol a través de la cual circulaban los indios que hacían el rezagado, utilizando costales que llevaban en la espalda.
Dice la historia que a medida que la profundidad aumentaba y la distancia por subir con el costal lleno era mayor, el número de indios muertos desesperados por la fatiga que se suicidaban arrojándose desde la escalera también aumentaba.
El arribo de los malacates accionados por bestias de carga significó un gran avance el cual fue mayor cuando llegaron los equipos accionados por vapor y posteriormente, los operados con energía eléctrica a los cuales en la actualidad, se les han colocado dispositivos electrónicos, los que supuestamente incrementan en forma notable la seguridad durante su operación, sin embargo, de éstos últimos se han reportado accidentes ocasionados por fallas en los dispositivos electrónicos, lo cual originó que un grupo de trabajadores quedara suspendido durante varias horas.
Otro caso, fue una falla en el sistema de frenado de un malacate de fricción, lo cual originó que un "skip" cargado se precipitara al fondo del tiro ocasionando la destrucción total de las guías de cable y de la estación de malteo.
El fabricante ha mencionado que en este caso, todas las protecciones fallaron porque incidían en una solo válvula cuyo resorte falló.
En aquellos años de la colonia se prendían grandes fogatas cerca de los topes de las obras para calentarlos y enfriarlos con agua a fin de fracturar el mineral para extraerlo posteriormente.
Con el arribo de la pólvora negra a las minas europeas en el año de 1627 y después a las de América, se da un gran paso en la explotación minera, pero ello requería de hacer barrenos en la roca para introducir en ellos el explosivo, los cuales hasta principios de este siglo se hacían con barra y martillo, pero se logró un gran avance cuando se introdujeron las primeras perforadoras neumáticas montadas en columna y el avance fue mayor con el arribo de las perforadoras montadas en piedras neumáticas, porque tenían mayor versatilidad.
El peligro que representan las perforadoras montadas en piedra neumática ha sido batido con el arribo de los jumbos electrohidráulicos, los cuales retiran al operador del frente y limitan su exposición a situaciones peligrosas, pero introducen en la operación, a la energía eléctrica la cual debe manejarse siguiendo todas las normas de seguridad para controlar los riesgos que implica su uso.
El uso de los batidos dumpty-home (sp) ha revolucionado algunos de los sistemas de explotación en cuanto a la forma de perforar y a aumentar la productividad disminuyendo así la exposición a los trabajadores a situaciones peligrosas, ya que el personal normalmente opera a distancia este tipo de equipos y lo hace desde lugares bien protegidos.
La polvora negra fue sustituida por la dinamita, misma que generaba una gran cantidad de gases durante la voladura, así como grandes dolores de cabeza, estos gases han sido disminuidos notablemente con el arribo del anfo (sp) y los hidrogeles.
La exposición de los trabajadores durante el encendido de las voladuras también ha sido disminuido notablemente si consideramos el paso de los encendedores para las mechas de seguridad, el del cordón encendedor y los conectadores para prender el mínimo de puntas, el de los estopines electrícos para iniciar la distancia a una sola punta, pero con los peligros que implicaba su uso.
Actualmente los moneles, los cuales en su operación reducen la exposición en forma notable y eliminan los peligros que implica la energía eléctrica.
Una de las operaciones que representan grande exposición de los trabajadores a situaciones peligrosas es el avance de contra-pozos o chiflones utilizando máquinas perforadoras montadas en piedra neumática, aún cuando se utilicen jaulas suspendidas o plataforma trepadoras.
Lo anterior se ha eliminado con el arribo de las máquinas rimadoras de contra-pozos. Una práctica común es utilizar estas máquinas para realizar nuevos tiros cuando ya se cuenta con el nivel inferior.
También uno de los fabricantes anuncia que una máquina rimadora de contra-pozos puede hacer obras casi horizontales y reporta que realizó un túnel de 685 metros de longitud con inclinación de seis grados.
Se ha empezado a distribuir sobre las máquinas hidráulicas, las cuales mediante un chorro de agua a muy alta presión pueden cortar la roca, esto disminuirá la exposición de los trabajadores y desde luego, permitirá explotar cuerpos mineralizados angostos sin mayor dilación.
La minería subterránea devoró en el pasado bosques completos, sobre todo en las minas con terrenos flojos o sueltos, cuando en las dimensiones de los cuerpos mineralizados exigían el ademe a cuadros en los rebajes, así como el relleno con tepetate.
La introducción del relleno con jales o arenas, evita este tipo de ademados y reduce la exposición de los trabajadores a situaciones peligrosas.
En las obras mineras se sustituyendo la madera por acero y en la actualidad las máquinas que colocan anclas no solamente en las frentes, sino también en los rebajes, han disminuido en forma notable la exposición del personal al peligro.
El concreto lanzado reforzado con grapas ha sido especialmente valioso para controlar terrenos inestables.
La ventilación ha mejorado substancialmente y esto es obligado por la operación del equipo diesel que trabaja dentro de las minas, un renglón importante para esta mejora es la introducción de las máquinas rimadoras de contra-pozos con el fin de realizar las obras mineras que se requieren.
También ha sido valioso el arribo de los paquetes de computación para realizar un sin número de simulaciones que permiten en forma práctica y rápida escoger el arreglo más eficiente y además, controlar su operación.
Una de las operaciones que en el pasado reportaba un alto número de accidentes era sin duda, el quebrado de piedras grandes a fin de reducirlas al tamaño que se podía manejar en la operación y ésta se tenía que hacer a golpe de martillo. El arribo de las quebradoras al interior de la mina redujo en forma muy importante la exposición de los trabajadores a estas situaciones peligrosas.
El rezagado de las obras mineras ha sido realizado a través de los años, a mano y con mantas o con canastas, con pala y costales, con pala y carretillas, con pala y con carros mineros montados sobre vía empujados por los trabajadores, con pala y con carros mineros empujados por bestias de carga, con pala neumática y carros mineros arrastrados por locomotoras, con equipos de carga acarreo y descarga accionados neumáticamente, con scrubtrams, con camiones de bajo perfil cargados por scrubtrams y con scrubtrams accionados a control remoto.
La operación del equipo diesel de acarreo, implica no sólo el tener una buena ventilación que cumpla con las normas vigentes, sino el diseñar apropiadamente las obras por donde el equipo va a transitar y a descargar, a fin de controlar los riesgos que implica su operación.
Las mayores dimensiones de las obras mineras actuales han disminuido en forma dramática una de las condiciones que en el pasado representaba una gran exposición de los trabajadores al peligro, me refiero a los atragantes.
Los trenes que circulan en el interior de algunas minas subterráneas se han automatizado en forma notable desde hace varios años, logrando con ello disminuir la exposición del personal a situaciones peligrosas.
En general, puede decirse que la tendencia de los fabricantes de equipo es hacer más sencilla su operación y retirar al personal lo máximo posible de los equipos mismos, para lo cual utilizan el control remoto o el cableado lo que permite retirar la consola de control del equipo hasta lugares perfectamente protegidos y también puede mencionarse que hay una tendencia definida a hacer más eficientes y productivos a estos equipos.
Atrás han quedado los tiempos en que las operaciones mineras requerían de un elevado número de personal, donde las productividades totales de estas unidades mineras eran del rango de una tonelada por hombre turno.
A fines del presente milenio empieza a operar la primera mina subterránea que prácticamente ha reducido su personal a la mínima expresión, automatizando la mayor parte de su operación y la cual controla desde superficie, pero continúa con el concepto clásico al explotar el cuerpo mineralizado.
Se empiezan a anunciar conceptos revolucionarios como la transportación masiva del minado, de Sumitomo Metals, en la cual se asegura que es una forma limpia de transportar minerales en cápsulas con ruedas, las cuales son cargadas y se desplazan en una tubería que utiliza aire a baja presión.
La presión social que soporta la industria por la etiqueta de contaminante que se le ha colocado por parte de los grupos ambientalistas que en muchos casos esgrimen argumentos que no tienen fundamento sólido, pero que transforman en no viables a muchos proyectos. Así como los ciclos prolongados de bajos precios de los metales, seguramente llevará a la minería a transformar la forma tradicional de explotar a los cuerpos mineralizados, lo cual pudiera ser apoyado por el uso de bacterias o lixiviación in situ, o lo que a cada uno de ustedes se les pudiera ocurrir. Muchas gracias.
MR. POMROY: Are there any questions for Mr. Peña Burciaga?
MR. POMROY: Again I would like to thank our speaker, Mr. Juan Emilio Peña Burciaga for that excellent presentation.
Our final speaker is my colleague from the U.S. Department of Labor, Mine Safety and Health Administration, Gerald Dransite. Gerry is an electrical engineer at the MSHA Approval and Certification Center.
MR. GERALD D. DRANSITE (Electrical Engineer, Intrinsic Safety and Instrumentation Branch, MSHA Approval and Certification Center, U.S. Department of Labor): Thank you, and good afternoon.
For those of you who may be wondering where the MSHA Approval and Certification Center is located, it is in Triadelphia, West Virginia, the Northern panhandle of the State, and approximately about an hour-drive from Pittsburgh.
I work in the Intrinsic Safety and Instrumentation Branch. My work there, in part, is involved with the evaluation, testing and approval of the electronic control systems that go into the underground machinery when MSHA permissibility is required.
I thank you for this opportunity to speak at this conference today. Today, I will be addressing the MSHA initiatives to mitigate hazards involving remotely controlled mining machinery.
You may be asking yourself, why speak on remote mining hazards? After all, is it not the intent of remote mining to eliminate hazards? And has that goal not been successfully accomplished? In 1990, Ronald Wooden, Safety Vice-President for Consolidation Coal, happily stated on behalf of the National Coal Association that "the best way to protect an individual is to remove that individual from the hazard".
Well that ultimate goal, remote mining, in totally removing the worker from the hazard, has not yet been fully accomplished. There has been, however, some interesting research and progress made in this effort, and the capability of current technology to accomplish this goal has been demonstrated.
An example of that work: The U.S. Bureau of Mines demonstrated a reduced exposure of mining system in 1997 as part of a research project. In that project, current computer automation in robotic technology was used to perform the continuous mining, haulage and roof bolting functions, while the personnel safely supervised the operation from a remote air conditioned room. So though feasible, I believe the actual introduction of this level of remote mining is still ways off into the future.
So this leaves us with our current remote mining technologies which, although not totally removing the worker from the hazards, at least, removes him to a safer location and thereby reduces hazards.
A widely used and growing remote control technology is radio remote control. I believe that this technology has improved safety in mining. Consider the example of the continuous mining machine. Here, safety has been improved by removing the operator from hazards, such as moving cutter heads, dust, and major roof falls.
However, new potential hazards have been introduced. With the operator now off of the machine and off from under the protective canopy he is exposed to new hazards, such as pinning hazards, injuries related to the handling of the remote control unit, and unexpected roof falls in areas of supported roof.
In addition to the continuous mining machine, some other current applications of radio remote control include long-wall shearing machines, load hull dump vehicles, automated hauling systems, high-wall mining, and some new applications being explored include radio remote control of long-wall shield advanced systems, and also, on bulldozers for moving coal search piles at surface preparation plants.
So with the growing number of applications of radio remote control and a number of accidents and fatalities, MSHA became concerned. We formed a work group, in 1997, to study accidents involving radio remote. I will now address the results of that study.
There were two major goals of the group. The first was to review accident data, to identify factors that contributed to the accidents. The second was to investigate available technologies having the potential to mitigate the identified hazards.
Accidents involving all types of remote control machinery were included in the study, and the study included both coal and metal and nonmetal mines. A database search identified 95 accidents directly involving radio remote control technology. These accidents occurred over the period from 1983 through the first quarter of 1997.
The accidents were categorized by severity of injury, and are shown here versus the frequency of occurrence. The largest category, 68% of the accidents, resulted only in lost workdays, 12% of the accidents resulted in fatalities, and 5% in permanent disabilities.
In order to give you a feel for the yearly frequency of accidents, this graph shows the total number of accidents, both fatal and non- fatal, by year. It is interesting that decreasing trend in recent years, we did not really place any statistical significance to that trend. Our goal was to try to eliminate all accidents.
This graph shows just the number of fatal accidents by year, and here we see the number of permanently disabling accidents.
The study found that most of the accidents occurred in coal mines, 92 out of 95. The continuous mining machine was the most prevalent type of machinery involved in the accidents, again 92 out of 95. When looking at the type of injuries that occurred, most accidents involved body or body part pinnings.
It was surprising to find the large number of injuries due to the handling of the remote control unit. These were less severe and typically involved muscle pulls or contusions that occurred due to lifting or dropping of the remote unit, or slipping, tripping or falling while carrying it.
When we look at the job function of the injured person, the operator was found to be the person most at risk. When we look at the work function being performed during the accidents, it is interesting that tramming the machine to a new location resulted in the most number of accidents. Another big category are the accidents related to handling the remote control unit while cutting coal. The workgroup identified the primary cause of the 95 accidents and placed them in these eight categories.
Poor work practices were found to be the largest primary cause of the accidents, namely the operator placing himself in an unsafe location. The use of that phrase, "placed himself in an unsafe location", is not meant to suggest that the operator deliberately placed himself in harm's way.
The second largest cause was found to be due to remote control unit handling. Surprisingly, only one accident was attributed to equipment malfunction as the primary cause. There were four accidents involving equipment malfunction where it was identified as a secondary cause.
The workgroup then looked for secondary causes for the accidents in each of the primary cause categories. These eight secondary cause categories were identified for the poor work practices category.
It was frustrating to the workgroup that in the 45 work practice related accidents, in 30 of them no secondary cause could be identified because of insufficient information in the accident reports or the narratives. Yet, in every accident something unexpected happened beyond the obvious cause of the operator placing himself in an unsafe location.
The weight and size of the remote control unit was found to be a possible secondary cause in the remote handling category. Some of the older units were found to weigh as much as 40 pounds. The lack of mechanical protection of the controls, or the lack of a two-switch operation for movement functions, was judged a possible secondary cause in the accidental control activation category.
The control panel design was a possible secondary cause of the three accidents which were classified in the occupational illness category, where repetitive movement of the controls resulted in developing carpal tunnel syndrome. Poor control design also could have contributed to a likelihood of operator error in two of the accidents.
Another goal of the study was to review and to compare current remote control designs to evaluate their effectiveness in addressing the risk scenarios identified in the accidents and to generally evaluate the current state of the art. This comparison showed a wide variation in the extent of protection provided by the safety features of each manufacturer's design. Time does not permit a detailed comparison, but some general areas are shown on this slide and are worth noting, where the degree of safety feature implementation could have been a factor in the likelihood of some of the past accidents.
Based on the accident data analysis and the review of the safety features in the current designs, the workgroup concluded that there were a number of areas where action could be taken to improve safety. One of the key areas was work practices, and the review of current work practices.
Poor work practices really were identified as the primary cause in all eleven fatalities and 47% of all accidents. So emphasis needs to be placed on determining why operators place themselves in harm's way, and eliminating the causes that encourage that risky behaviour.
In 45 accidents, the operators pinned themselves. It may not be possible to develop adequate work practice changes to guarantee operators' safety. Proximity detection is a possible technical solution, and so the development of this technology is encouraged. However, to be successful it must function reliably in the rugged mining environment, and not be subject to nuisance tripping.
Our sister agency, NIOSH, currently has a proximity detection project underway and is evaluating a prototype system in the underground mines.
The workgroup concluded that a new approach, namely the system safety approach, is needed to most effectively attack the safety related problems of the complicated computer control in remote control mining machinery that we currently see in use. This approach involves all aspects of the system: the hardware, the software, the human interface, the environment, and even the work practices. Each of these elements cannot be successfully addressed in isolation.
The system safety approach includes conducting a risk assessment and a hazard analysis. The remote control system manufacturer, the mining machine manufacturer and the mine operator have different responsibilities regarding the safe design and use of a machine, but all must be involved in the system safety approach.
It is estimated that in 30 of the 95 accidents, their likelihood would have been reduced had a risk assessment and hazard analysis been conducted.
NIOSH came to the same conclusion in their control circuit safety project for computer control mining equipment. This currently active project is leading to a safety plan document that will provide direction and guidance to the mining industry for applying the system safety approach to their products.
MSHA is committed to working with NIOSH and the mining industry in developing a consensus standard for equipment utilizing programmable electronics, with the long-term goal of voluntary industry implementation.
For the following slides, in order to meet my time constraints, I will leave it to you to read the slide while I give you some background information on each consideration.
The remote units control layout and design, both from a functional and ergonomic point of view, was judged to be a factor in 19% of the accidents. The control panels design was a factor in accidents involving accidental control activation by the operator's hand or body, incidence of wrong switch activation, incidence of controls being hit by cables and by other objects, and even in developing carpal tunnel syndrome. So all these factors need to be considered in the design process.
In three non-fatal accidents, hardware failure was the primary or secondary cause that led to the unattended machine movement. Fault-tolerant system design can reduce these types of accidents. Machine movement alarms can improve safety. In one fatal and in four non-fatal accidents, poor communication between the operator and his helper of intended machine movement and the machine's movements mode was judged to be a factor in the accidents.
In four fatal and five non-fatal accidents, there was involvement of unexpected machine movement during maintenance. In all four fatalities, the primary cause was identified as the maintenance person placing himself in an unsafe location. In one of the fatalities, poor location of the diagnostic panel on the machine was identified as a secondary cause.
So the use of technology, such as a two-way RF data link that allows remote diagnostic read-out on the remote control unit of machine status and receiver status can reduce hazards.
The provision of maintained and functional overriding manual emergency controls can improve safety. In three fatalities, the victim was pinned with the remote control unit against his chest, and his co-workers could not free him because they could not gain access to it. The co-workers then tried to use the manual controls on the machine, but found them inoperative. Had the machine been able to be moved, the fatalities may not have occurred.
Attention should be given in the design to the remote control unit's weight and size. This may seem like a trivial point, but 36% of the accidents involved the lifting, dropping and general handling of the remote unit.
In most accidents, there are multiple causes or contributing factors beyond poor work practices. We found that there was not enough information available to determine root causes in 30 of the work practice related accidents.
So MSHA has made two changes to improve the accident reporting. MSHA Accident Investigation Training has now started emphasizing finding root and multiple causes of accidents. MSHA also has developed a new accident investigation database, which will provide much more complete data which will help in the future analyses of these accidents.
In summary, I believe the most important recommendation that came out of this study, and the one that has the greatest potential for reducing remote mining risks in the future, is the adoption of the system safety approach.
This represents a change in thinking in accident prevention in mining, which in the past has concentrated on the separate pieces that comprise the larger system, such as the hardware, the software, the human interface. With this isolated approach, we are seeing the same types of accidents and incidents reoccurring.
The system safety approach should be applied to all types of mining machinery where programmable electronics is used. It is the recognized comprehensive approach to increasing safety and other non-mining related industries involved with computer control safety critical applications.
The system safety approach is a methodology that considers the interfaces and interaction between the hardware, software, environment and humans, and uses the tools of risk assessment and hazard analysis to increase safety from the system point of view.
It will be a long-term effort for the mining industry to implement the system safety concepts, but it is an effort that is strongly encouraged and supported by MSHA.
I thank you very much. Are there any questions?
Question Period - Période de questions - Período de Preguntas
NEW SPEAKER: I was curious as to what proximity detection NIOSH is testing.
MR. DRANSITE: You mean the approach? It is basically a low frequency magnetic induction type of concept, where loop antennas are placed at key-pinch point locations on the machine, and the operator wears a receiver with a pick-up coil. It basically senses threshold level. When that is achieved, it can then either produce an audible or a visual alarm, or a vibrating-type alarm to him. Ultimately, they can even envision an interface where that unit then transmits back to the machine and could automatically shut it down.
NEW SPEAKER: There is a system available in Canada right now using microwave transmission that does exactly that, and you can tune it at a distance the operator is from the equipment. I have used it personally, and it is almost foolproof.
MR. DRANSITE: Great. I hope we have the same success.
NEW SPEAKER: En estas operaciones que utilizan control remoto, ¿cómo comparan los índices de accidentes contra las que no utilizan el control remoto?
MR. DRANSITE: We did not do a comparison, a statistical comparison, to try to determine the net effect or gain or reduction in accidents due to the adoption of remote control. It would be interesting to do that, but we have not done that.
MR. POMROY: If there are no more questions, please join me in expressing appreciation to all of our speakers.
This concludes the session on Remote Mining. Thank you all for coming.
MR. TED HEWITT (Director, Mining Inspections, Manitoba Labour, Mine Inspection Branch): This is our last session for the day, "Disaster Planning/Mine Rescue". I am your chairman.
We have three speakers to follow. Our first speaker is Felix Quintana. He is a district manager for the Mine Safety and Health Administration, U.S. Department of Labor.
Mr. Quintana began his career in the mining industry in 1967, and has worked in both surface and underground metal and non-metal mines. Felix joined MSHA's predecessor agency, the Mine Enforcement and Safety Administration, in 1978 as a mines inspector. Since then, he has held positions of increasing responsibility in the U.S. Department of Labor's Mine Safety and Health Administration as a metal and non-metal mine safety and health field officer/supervisor, assisting district manager and, beginning in February 1998, as district manager of the North Central District in Duluth, Minnesota.
MR. FELIX QUINTANA (District Manager, Mine Safety and Health Administration, U.S. Department of Labor): Thank you.
Today's session will be on disaster planning and mine rescue. It is going to be divided into three different main topics: Pre-planning for disasters, MSHA mining emergency operations, and the MSH toxic material response plan that we have in the formulation process.
Most of my comments today can be applied to the mining companies, the state and federal agencies that regulate the planning that goes along for disasters and mine rescue.
Mine disasters can occur suddenly and with devastating consequences. We always need to be prepared for the eventual mine disaster which can occur in our areas. The pre-planning for these disasters can make the difference between saving a human life and bringing the mine operation back into operation.
It is critical that we do the pre-planning. The keys to effective mine management are the pre-planning and training. So training plus pre-planning is something that all companies, all state agencies in the United States, Canada and Mexico need to depend on in order to bring a rapid response if a disaster is to occur.
Disasters do not usually occur with any kind of warning in mines. They come very suddenly. We need to identify the different disaster scenarios that we may have to encounter should we be called upon to work in a mine disaster.
The companies that are involved in mining need to develop an emergency plan. The emergency plans in the United States have to be submitted to us for review. Also, the emergency plan within the agency itself has to be well thought out, and is well thought out. It is being developed throughout the experiences that we have had with mine rescue in the past.
Another point that you have to consider always is you have to train the affected employees. All employees in a mine or in an organization must know what to do in case of a disaster. It includes top management down to the newest employee that you have at the mine. Maybe the newest employee only needs to know that he needs to get out, and which way to get out of the mine, to help himself, while the top managers need to have much more responsibilities and make the assignment of different responsibilities throughout the corporate structure or the agency structure that they may be involved with.
Practice is another thing that is important. We must practice for these disasters, although we hope that they never occur. The companies in the United States are required to have at least mine emergency evacuation procedures in underground mines every year. They are judged against certain timetables in which they must accomplish the evacuation of the mine.
For the Mine Safety and Health Administration, we also practice in the event that we are called upon in our district to respond and assist the company with a mine disaster.
In Beckley, West Virginia, at our Mine Health and Safety Academy, we have MERD exercises -- Mine Emergency Response Drills. The top managers, from the field office level, supervisor on up, are included in these MERD exercises. There is a set up mock disaster that is planned. Different managers and supervisors are assigned different key responsibilities in responding to the mock disaster and are evaluated on how they perform.
One of the keys to the rapid well planned response is that the individuals, whether you are talking about the company individual or the state or federal government official, they must know what their responsibilities and their roles are going to be in case of a disaster.
Identifying the scenario is important for the companies also. You have the typical scenarios of fire, explosions, toxic chemical spills, which is a new concern for MSHA nowadays, inundation. Of course there is the Y2K problem that a lot of people have been talking about, that could cause problems of a safety concern for individuals in a mine, such as the ventilation systems failing, hoist systems not operating as they should. These are all things that we have to plan for and look for in the eventuality of a malfunction.
The chain of command has been established within MSHA. Most companies that we deal with, especially the larger underground mines, have also established the chain of command, and the responsibilities have been identified.
Cross-training employees for multiple roles is also very important. Your top ventilation man may not be there when you need him in case of a disaster: Who is going to fill in for him, and who can do his job, hopefully as well as he can, in the eventuality that he is on vacation when you have a mine disaster.
Warning alarms have to be kept up. Escape procedures have to be established and practiced, and hands-on working of these training procedures is critical. You can do a lot of training in the classroom, and that is important as a first step, but after you leave the classroom, how will you handle the actual mock situation that you can set up? You cannot set up a real disaster in order to find out whether you are going to be able to handle this or not, so as closely as possible you have to set up situations that will give you some feedback on whether or not you are doing the job that you need to do.
Authorities need to be notified. In some instances, they need to request assistance. Almost in every major mine disaster in the United States, MSHA is notified. They are required to be notified immediately. The agency will be on site, not necessarily take over the mine emergency operation, but they can take over the operation if they deem that it is critical enough or if the company is not prepared enough to do it on their own. Most of the time, we are there simply as someone to guide the company through the emergency and hopefully help them either rescue the people that are missing or bring the mine back into operation.
Rescue of missing personnel in a mine disaster is extremely critical. A rapid well planned response is of utmost importance if we have people that are missing.
Recovery of an operation is critical for the company, because if the response is rapid but not well planned or well planned but not rapid enough, it could mean the difference between the mine coming back into operation or losing the mine entirely, or losing major portions of the mine to where it is not economically feasible to continue mining that particular mine.
All levels of mine management and workforce, like I said before, must be involved in this. In MSHA, the top managers from the mine agency are all involved in the exercises that we conduct every year. For the company, it is extremely critical that the same be done.
The roles and responsibilities, like I said, must be identified and must be assigned, and key responsibilities and cross training of employees in different roles.
Hands-on training, again, just to re-emphasize it, is critical. You can have a perfect mine emergency plan on paper, but then when you have a real emergency and it occurs, even if you practiced it many times, you are practicing under much different conditions than you will find in an actual emergency, and things do not always go the way we put them on paper. Hopefully we have a good enough plan, or you have a good enough plan, to where the planning that you have done has been good enough to help you through this critical initial first period.
Special tools and equipment are going to be needed for different kinds of disasters -- if you do not have the tools on hand, what kind of suppliers can you contact, what kind of arrangements have you made for them for food, for emergency services, for crowd control. There are all kinds of things to consider in a protracted mine emergency situation. It especially becomes critical if you still have missing miners. Whether it is one or ten miners that are still missing, the families and the media and everything else that you can think of you will have to contend with in a real situation.
How often do you need to practice these things is different probably in every country. Mexico's regulations I am not too familiar with. The Canadian regulations, from talking to some of the individuals yesterday at the underground laboratory, seem somewhat similar to the United States. I think the frequency that we require is pretty much the same in both countries.
The simulation exercises that the companies establish can go all the way from mine rescue contests to actual mine emergency simulations. We have actually gone out with our mine emergency preparedness drills to underground mines in the United States and set up a mock disaster at the particular mine. It takes a lot of planning, and it does interfere with some of the production at these companies, but that is probably the best kind of next to real life situation that you can have, as opposed to just doing it in a classroom or out in an environment that is not similar to that.
Rescue practices and competitions. In the United States and Canada we have mine rescue contests. This week, they are having the International Mine Rescue contest in Louisville, Kentucky. Teams from all over the United States and many countries are participating there. That is an excellent way to keep the interest up for your mine rescue team members.
One of the things that we are seeing in the United States is that we have people serving on mine rescue teams that have not had any actual hands-on experience in the last 15 years. That is good. We are not having mine disasters at the frequency that we used to have.
It also can cause a problem for the individual mine rescue member and the interest that he has in serving on a team and just practicing year-in and year-out and never having a chance to use his skills. Of course, we do not want him to use his skills in a real emergency.
The competitions and the scenarios that we can set up for them are an excellent way to keep up the interest for these individuals and keep their skills at a high level.
Of course feedback, evaluation and improvement are critical: How well are you doing with your particular emergency response planning and your system? Is it adequate enough to handle the situation in the particular type of mining? You need some evaluation of your process and how that progresses on.
Again, the key to success in pre-planning for mine disasters is management commitment and employee participation.
I am now going to talk a little bit about MSHA mine emergency operations in the United States.
MSHA has a long history of mine emergency operations in both metal and non-metal mines in the United States.
Back at the turn of the century, when mine rescue teams started to come into existence, the equipment used was not very sophisticated. This individual in the mine rescue team is holding a canary up there. That was his gas detecting equipment at the time.
It is not that unusual, though. I was reading a study on an Australian mine rescue team. As late as the 1980s, they are still using canaries in Australia. They have become a little bit more humane for the canaries, though. They have a system where they can close the cage off and flush the cage with oxygen almost instantly so that the bird does not expire. And they do not use him again. They only use him once, if he is exposed to any bad gases. I guess they have come a little bit along with their techniques.
In the United States, we have three fully self contained command centres that are strategically located throughout the United States. They are equipped with the latest kind of equipment that you guys have heard about here today.
We have all kinds of equipment that are used by our tech support employees.
We have portable satellite communication systems, portable weather stations, electrical generators and water pumps, GPS systems, SEISMI (sp) location systems for underground, and many SEISMI location systems, thermal imaging unit. This is a unit that the mine rescue team can use and actually see through smoke. We have one of those at our headquarters in Beckley, West Virginia, that is available for our mine rescue teams.
MSHA has two mine rescue teams, that are national mine rescue teams, made up of MSHA employees. We have two teams for coal and two teams for the metal and non-metal side. They practice and use this type of equipment on a regular basis. We also have contracts with the Air Force and contracts with drilling companies that can be portable and brought to almost any location that we can think of. The Air Force can get us there within hours if the need be for our equipment.
In the early 1900s there was equipment located almost in all parts of the United States after the advent of miner rescue. The fact that we are having less and less disasters all the time, the need for equipment located all over the United States has diminished. Now, with the Air Force and different contractors that we can arrange with, we have a lot less equipment and a lot less teams, but strategically located. With the communications systems that we have and computers, a lot of the work that was done by hundreds of teams before is done by a lot less people nowadays.
Of course the objective of the Mine Emergency Operations section of MSHA is to ensure the health and safety of all persons involved in mine emergency rescue and recovery.
The Mine Emergency Response Plan is a written plan that is given to each inspector, from the lowest inspector on, up to the highest manager. The rescue teams, like I said, are both in coal and metal and non-metal. All underground mines are required to have their rescue teams. Most of them have formed associations to where they have upwards of five to ten companies that are in an association that have cooperative agreements into assisting each other in case of an emergency.
There are some legal responsibilities that are coming into play now where companies, because of the liability, are a little bit more reluctant to sending their people into only a recovery type situation. Of course if there is rescue of individuals, all companies basically have committed to assist when anybody's life is endangered.
The legal responsibilities of liability now have brought up some questions to where some companies are a little bit more reluctant to just automatically commit their teams if it is only the recovery of the mine that is at stake. Those are things that are going to have to be handled in the future.
The group that assists us with most of the technical equipment and engineers and people that were needed at the mine sites are located in Brucetown, PA. They assist us in almost every mine emergency.
The next thing I would like to cover quickly, because I see I am running out of time, is the MSHA Toxic Material Response.
Toxic material releases at mines and mineral processing operations are an emerging area of concern for MSHA. We had two incidents in the last year where we have had toxic explosions that have scattered some of the materials that are quite toxic over an area in the mine that we normally did not see any explosions like this before. It is an area of concern.
We have developed a plan to try and respond to these types of toxic incidents where we did not have to have anything like that in the past.
Highly toxic materials are present in large quantities at numerous sites under MSHA regulatory jurisdiction. They are usually at metal and non-metal facilities. Our coal mines do not have a lot of toxic material, but the substances found on mine property include mercury, cyanide, central nervous system depressants, caustic, heavy metals, organic sensitors and carcinogens.
Our normal mine rescue team, when they are brought into a situation like this, may not be the people that we want at a type of disaster that involves these types of chemicals.
We are in the process of developing a plan to guide MSHA response to any major toxic explosion that we might have. We are not in the process of formulating any new regulations. We are going to try and work with the existing regulations that we have, and try and respond to the situation with what we have now.
All of the things that are listed here we have, but we are not used to responding to these kinds of situations, like the ones we had earlier this year in Louisiana and Indiana. We had two major explosions and we were very lucky that nobody was killed. In Louisiana, we had 21 miners that were burnt with the caustic material that was spread throughout the explosion area. Two or three of them were seriously burned, but the fact that we were able to get out of that situation without losing anybody's life was very lucky.
So disaster planning and mine rescue are essential elements in a sound mine health and safety program. Like the gentleman at the luncheon said today, prevention is probably your best tool that you have. If you never have to respond to a mine emergency, that is the best way to do it. Thank you.
MR. HEWITT: Thanks, Felix. Are there any questions?
Question Period - Période de questions - Período de Preguntas
MR. HEWITT: In that case, I have one.
In a little over three months, we are going to get into the Y2K problem. What is MSHA's role in the Y2K with respect to the mining operations?
MR. QUINTANA: MSHA's role in Y2K primarily has been, up to this point, notifying the mine operators that the problem is out there. Some of our bigger mines are well aware of that. Some of our smaller mines, that may not be as aware about the Y2K problems that arise, do not necessarily have as many of the systems that are dependent on computers as some of our bigger mines.
We have been putting out information about Y2K. We have hired some people, some computer specialists, in some of the districts that are available for answering questions on Y2K type questions. Basically, that is how we have handled that.
MR. HEWITT: Thanks, Felix. Any more questions?
In that case, we will move on here. Our next speaker is Fidencio Vigil Ruiz.
Fidencio is an engineer, graduated in mines and metallurgy, and received additional education at university in computing.
He started his work experience in 1981, and progressively moved up, starting as a mine supervisor, moving on to Assistant Chief of Safety, Chief of Safety, Chief of Safety and Environment Control. He is presently Chief of Environmental Control with Servicios Industriales Peñoles -- I hope I have pronounced that correctly.
In his professional career, he has been involved in the development of a proposal for a Mexican Standard on Safety and Health in Mines. In addition, the development of a proposal for a Mexican Standard on Safety Management in High Risk Processes.
ING. FIDENCIO VIGIL RUIZ (Chief of Environmental Control, Servicios Industriales Peñoles): Gracias, buenas tardes, el tema que vamos a exponer está relacionado a las emergencias mineras. Para esto, gran parte de la temática que vamos a tocar es lo concerniente a lo que está haciendo Industrias Peñoles. Como comentaba hace un momento en 1996, se formó un comité técnico para la elaboración de la norma 121 de la Secretaría de Trabajo y Previsión Social en México. Pero un enfoque que quisimos darle en forma especializada, fue lo relacionado a las emergencias mineras.
Vamos a hacer un poco de historia, y veremos algunas imágenes no gratas en cuanto a algunos siniestros que se han presentado en México, sobre todo, el de 1969 en el cual fallecieron 156 personas.
El Grupo Peñoles tiene la siguiente visión, ser un grupo de clase mundial, reconocido por sus operaciones en metales preciosos y base, así como por su rentabilidad con ventas tales que se ubica entre las 10 principales empresas mineras a nivel mundial. Nuestra misión es la siguiente: Peñoles es la empresa del Grupo Val y busca maximizar el patrimonio de sus accionistas y beneficiar a su personal, proveedores y comunidad donde operan, a través de negocios con liderazgo nacional en el aprovechamiento de los recursos naturales no renovables, ofreciendo productos de valor superior con calidad y servicio que satisfaga las necesidades del cliente mejor que cualquier otro competidor.
En el año de 1987 iniciamos en el Grupo Peñoles ya de una manera formal la capacitación integral de nuestras brigadas de rescate. No sólo en México, hemos conocido de un gran número de siniestros en China, en Bélgica, en Francia. Recuerdo las últimas informaciones de la Compañía General de Materiales Nucleares en Francia hablaba de alrededor de 104 inicios de incendio en un lapso de un año lo cual nos dio una idea de que para poder hacer una planeación adecuada para la prevención tenemos que investigar todo aquello que sea factible de producir un siniestro en las minas.
Obviamente otro de nuestros objetivos es la competencia, tener personal competente implica una preparación exhaustiva. En un principio, cuando sólo hacíamos la preparación con los propios recursos de industrias Peñoles y posteriormente quisimos tener una retroalimentación para saber qué es lo que se estaba haciendo a nivel nacional de esta forma dimos paso a hacer eventos a nivel nacional en México donde participaran diversas empresas.
En Industrias Peñoles, hemos utilizado diferentes equipos a lo largo de la historia como ha sido el maquei (sp), el biopac, el chemox, el old service y actualmente estamos empleado el equipo Draguer VG 174, 174A, y el VG4.
Siempre que hablamos de desastres en la industria minera pensamos o nos ubicamos en que éstas sólo ocurren en las minas de carbón sin embargo, a través del tiempo nos hemos dado cuenta de que existe el mayor riesgo en las minas de carbón, pero el riesgo de incendio en cualquier operación subterránea, siempre va a ser una posibilidad que no podemos despreciar.
Tenemos una tabla en la que vemos las explosiones en minas de carbón en Coahuila, México que es la zona carbonífera, de 1902 a 1988, en 97 años han perecido 770 personas en explosiones de nuestras minas de carbón la que tal vez se tenga más presente es la de Barroterán, Coah. En marzo 31, de 1939 donde fallecieron 156 personas, creando dolor e inseguridad por el trabajo en el resto.
¿Qué es lo que estamos haciendo en Industrias Peñoles para que tengamos gente preparada? Tenemos empresas en diferentes estados de la República mexicana a todo lo largo y lo ancho. En total Industrias Peñoles cuenta con 19 equipos de rescate, 19 cuadrillas con un total de 133 personas entrenadas para cualquier emergencia minera en la República mexicana, codificados nuestros sistemas de comunicación para que en un momento dado todas las áreas de emergencia de las diferentes minas de Industrias Peñoles podamos comunicarnos en forma rápida y atender o apoyarlos en las emergencias que se llegasen a presentar.
Tenemos también que han ocurrido siniestros en minas diferentes al carbón en 1963 en Chile hubo un incendio de un camión que transportaba explosivos y en el que fallecieron más de 300 personas, quién no recuerda el de Idaho en Estados Unidos en 1973, cuando por combustión espontánea fallecieron 122 personas.
En México una de nuestras minas "La Encantada" en 1981 donde falleció el responsable del área de emergencias y seguridad mismo que tres meses antes había recibido una preparación en Pittsburgh buscando darle mayores conocimientos. Sin embargo, debemos de estar conscientes de que cuando se presenta un siniestro es inmensa la presión y muchas veces las decisiones que se toman no son las adecuadas.
Desgraciadamente cuando tenía yo la responsabilidad del Departamento de Seguridad e Higiene y Control Ambiental, en 1991 tuvimos un incendio que tuvo una duración de tres días y fallecieron dos personas.
En Industrias Peñoles, contamos actualmente con 11 unidades mineras, de esas 11, 10 son minas subterráneas. Hemos intervenido en competencias de rescate tanto en México como en el extranjero, en el extranjero nuestros brigadistas han participado en Missouri, en Dakota del Sur y en Nuevo México.
Fue importante el apoyo que recibimos del personal de Minera Carsarrollo de nuestros equipos de rescate. Fue el contacto que tuvimos con Daisy Apodaca del Bureau de Minas de Nuevo México, quien fue el primer funcionario de Estados Unidos que apoyó las competencias que desarrollábamos en México. Previo a esto estuvimos nosotros en Nuevo México viendo el desarrollo de sus competencias, conociendo sus procedimientos y a la fecha hemos seguido implementándolos.
En nuestras competencias, buscamos la participación de todos, de nuestras esposas, de nuestros operarios, que vean los tipos de simulaciones que hacemos y que estén conscientes, porque es parte fundamental, la conciencia de que los siniestros pueden ocurrir y en un momento dado podemos llegar a perder la vida de muchos de nuestros trabajadores.
Peñoles ha organizado competencias en el 1987, a 1999 en el cual han participado algunas empresas invitadas como Minera Carbonífera de Río Escondido e Industrial Minera México y otras empresas del país. Es importante porque al término de esas competencias las brigadas ganadoras van a participar al extranjero, así tenemos que la primera competencia que realizamos del Grupo Peñoles fueron los ganadores de cada una de las especialidades, el mejor "gas man", el mejor capitán y así sucesivamente, sin embargo, nos encontramos con un problema terrible de comunicación, todos querían ser jefes.
Ese es el tipo de problemas que alguno de ustedes deben conocer en las diferentes competencias que se realicen sea aquí en Canadá, o en Estados Unidos.
Problemas de ventilación, rescate de personal, fortificaciones, procedimiento de desagüe, control de incendios. Al final hay unos trofeos para los ganadores, para rescate minero, para respiración cardiopulmonar, para vexman, y para primeros auxilios.
Otra persona que nos ha apoyado mucho, precisamente de MSHA Wendy Jacobsen quien ha fungido como juez en las últimas competencias desarrolladas en Industrias Peñoles, en Guanajuato, específicamente en febrero de 1999.
Otra disciplina de la competencia es la de primeros auxilios y respiración cardiopulmonar, normalmente en las competencias de rescate los trabajos de campo los hacemos en campos simulados. Sin embargo, todo lo que son exámenes escritos y las competencias de primeros auxilios optamos por hacerlas en las instalaciones de los hoteles donde hospedamos a nuestras brigadas, la última competencia tuvimos la participación de 152 personas, 14 de ellos de Estados Unidos, específicamente de Nuevo México.
Otra disciplina de la competencia es la eficiencia y rapidez en la detección de fallas en el equipo de rescate y la descripción de los componentes de las pruebas de los equipos, al término de la competencia, como hacíamos mención, se entregan los reconocimientos, últimamente se han integrado mujeres en nuestros equipos de rescate no del Grupo Peñoles, sino de otras empresas invitadas y vaya que nos han ganado.
Competencias contra cuadrillas en Estados Unidos, la primera competencia internacional como mencionábamos antes fue en Dakota del Sur en 1996, están perfectamente entrenados, es de los mejores equipos de rescate que mejor nivel tienen para la atención de emergencias.
Tenemos a Nuevo México, donde participamos en la segunda, cuarta y quinta competencia internacional.
La cronología de competencias que ha desarrollado Peñoles son las siguientes: en 1986 iniciamos en Zacualpan, Estado de México donde participan actualmente como señalábamos, son 11 minas las que tenemos en operación.
El número de cuadrillas participantes y los estados de la República mexicana donde se ubican, de Peñoles 11, en nueve estados de la República mexicana, Industrial Minera México ha enviado un equipo del Estado de Zacatecas, Minera Carbonífera del Río Escondido un equipo del Estado de Coahuila donde se han presentado las explosiones en minas de carbón, Altos Hornos de México, de su planta han mandado tres en el Estado de Coahuila, y Altos Hornos de México, Minas, ha mandado dos en el Estado de Coahuila.
En 1999 Peñoles participó en Calbars, Nuevo México, con el equipo de Guanajuato que fue el que ganó la competencia nacional y en esa competencia en Nuevo México obtuvimos el segundo lugar en la competencia en campo y no cometimos errores en las competencias de primeros auxilios. Sin embargo, ha sido difícil para nosotros el idioma, entonces batallamos en las traducciones de los exámenes y ha bajado nuestra calificación en los exámenes escritos.
La planeación de las medidas de urgencia o rescate de las minas lo contemplamos en la norma oficial mexicana de la Secretaría de Trabajo y Previsión Social 121 que se elaboró en 1996. Las obligaciones legales de rescate minero contemplados en esta norma son las siguientes: establece que toda mina en su plan de trabajo contenga acciones preventivas o sea que deberá hacer un análisis de los riesgos a que están expuestas sus operaciones para poder dictaminar qué medidas preventivas se van a contemplar para el desarrollo de las operaciones, qué acciones de salvamento se van a llevar a efecto en el poco probable caso de que se presente una emergencia, el paro de las actividades en el momento mismo en que se presente un siniestro y la evacuación del siniestro si el riesgo es inminente.
En la norma también se contemplan el combate de incendios en cualquier sector de la mina, el rescate desde hacerlos o hacemos los simulacros correspondientes.
El plan también establece los procedimientos de emergencia donde consideremos los funcionamientos de las alarmas ya sean éstas sonoras, luminosas o de cualquier tipo, hablar de otro tipo lo clásico que se maneja en los sistemas de información de emergencia de las minas es el hetanetiol o hetil mercaptanoken (sp) que creo que aquí también lo manejan.
En las minas, sean de carbón o de otros minerales contemplamos que se tengan refugios y que éstos sean de fácil acceso que sean identificados aun en malas condiciones de visibilidad. Por qué hablamos de refugios en lugar de pensar en una evacuación del exterior de la mina, estamos hablando por ejemplo de nuestra mina Proaño en el Estado de Zacatecas. Es una mina con una extensión de eight kilómetros y 18 niveles en operación con una profundidad de 1000 metros. Entonces pensar en sacar al personal en minas de esa naturaleza es jugar con fuego. Lo que hicimos es prácticamente diseñar zonas de resguardo con sistemas de comunicación para que nuestra gente llegue en forma inmediata y que los resguardos estén ubicados a 200, 400 metros y que en un lapso de cinco o siete minutos podamos tenerlos en un lugar seguro e informar al personal que se encuentre en dichas zonas.
Es un ejemplo de cómo los tenemos diseñados en algunas de nuestras minas, es una estación de resguardo en el interior donde además de la zona que debe estar ventilada, debe contar con sistema de comunicación telefónica e iluminada, tener agua potable y un botiquín, alimentos y autorescatadores para el poco probable caso de que la gente que haya llegado o haga uso de nuestras zonas de resguardo haya utilizado los autorescatadores para llegar y que tuviera la necesidad de evacuarlo y hacer uso de otro autorescatador, entonces dejamos los autorescatadores en "stand-by".
El plan también establece la acción conjunta con personal de la empresa minera con nuestras autoridades locales, Secretaría de Trabajo, Protección Civil y autoridades federales, en caso de poner en peligro a terceras personas o a sus propiedades.
Nuestra preparación de rescate en nuestras minas mexicanas es que contamos con salas de conferencias para la educación de nuestra brigada de rescate, nuestras prácticas en primeros auxilios, en los equipos de rescate. Anteriormente en 1998 hacíamos las simulaciones paralelas de nuestros cuerpos de bomberos con nuestras brigadas de rescate. También nuestras primeras competencias consideraban el uso de salas de rescate más apropiadas donde garantizáramos de que sólo el personal de nuestras brigadas de rescate tuviera acceso a esas instalaciones y nadie pudiera manipularlo, sobre todo donde son probados y reparados todos los equipos de rescate y las estaciones de recarga de oxígeno, equipo de comunicación, además de nuestras cuadrillas la mayoría de la gente cuenta con equipos de radio para una comunicación oportuna.
Mencionábamos los cuartos de humo, en un principio las simulaciones de nuestras cuadrillas de rescate las hacíamos en el interior de las minas, posteriormente optamos por hacer unos cuartos y hacer las competencias en el exterior.
Conclusiones: Las causas de los siniestros son muchas y de variada índole como un mal diseño de nuestras subestaciones eléctricas, actividades de alto riesgo. De por si, la minería es una actividad de alto riesgo por el manejo de explosivos, manejo de materiales peligrosos como lo señalaba Felix, el desconocimiento de los riesgos y una mayor mecanización de las operaciones mineras. En la mañana que hacían el comentario de que se requiere una mayor mecanización, eso es cierto, disminuyen en mucho los riesgos a la integridad física de nuestra gente, pero hablar también de un incremento en la mec tenga dos jumbos o dos scrubtram a hablar de una mina como la que mencionaba antes de las dimensiones de Proaño que conste de 80 equipos diesel de operación en el interior de la mina, pues obviamente las posibilidades de riesgo son mayores.
Con estos y otros factores el riesgo se incrementa, con esto se propicia uno de los peligros más graves de nuestras minas, los incendios en instalaciones, en los equipos, en maquinarias, los talleres, subestaciones y si esto ocurre en nuestras obras subterráneas pues es realmente una situación de verdadero pánico.
Para eso la planificación adecuada en la capacitación, es la capacitación para poder enfrentar aquellos probables accidentes y su impacto en nuestro personal y propiedad de la empresa.
Cuando empezamos a hacer las competencias nacionales e internacionales pensábamos que no era tan necesario el hecho de integrar 11 ó 12 equipos y llevarlos a una ciudad pero al final de cuentas vimos que había mucha diferencia en la preparación de nuestras diferentes brigadas de rescate, algunos extraordinarios como en el caso de Fresnillo en Zacatecas, el resto de nuestras minas con una preparación muy deficiente, pero nos hemos dado cuenta que ese tipo de competencias nos ayuda a tener una planificación adecuada para atender cualquier emergencia. Hoy hemos notado que todas las brigadas tienen posibilidades de ganar una competencia, pero no es en sí el participar o ganar o no una competencia, sino lo más importante es que todos tienen la preparación, la concientización y la competencia para actuar en caso de desastres, el último incendio que tuvimos hace alrededor de cinco meses en una mina en el Estado de Chihuahua, pudimos actuar con oportunidad sin afectar al personal e inclusive sin afectar tampoco las instalaciones.
Debemos ser perseverantes en la preparación del personal de rescate que ellos sean parte del cambio que buscamos, fomentemos la virtud de la responsabilidad e asuman las consecuencias de los actos intencionados o no, porque esto hace que la gente sea más consciente, que conozca con oportunidad los riesgos y que sepa que si está operando un equipo en mal estado o deja una instalación eléctrica deficiente la probabilidad de riesgo de incendio existe con la afectación de todos los que laboremos en el interior de la mina, es difícil pensar en poder evacuar como en el caso del incendio de 1991 a 380 personas, sin embargo, lo hicimos no en un simulacro sino en plena emergencia en 25 minutos. Esto es lo que está haciendo Industrias Peñoles. Hemos notado un gran avance.
La planificación que hicimos fue a través de la elaboración de la norma 121. De esta forma no sólo para Industrias Peñoles sino para toda la industria minera en el país tenemos las mismas ideas, los mismos conceptos en que la preparación de la gente, no sólo de las brigadas sino también de la gente que opera, si los capacitamos, si los concientizamos y hacemos gente responsable y competente la probabilidad de ocurrencia de riesgos, sean inundaciones, sean incendios o derrumbares, va a ser menor. Gracias.
Question Period - Période de questions - Período de Preguntas
NEW SPEAKER: Mencionaba Felix y tu también Fidencio que una de las partes más importantes era la prevención, pudieras abundar que están haciendo para la prevención de incendios.
ING. VIGIL RUIZ: Claro, sí es muy importante hablar no sólo de la preparación o de la planificación para que se puedan atender las emergencias en la industria minera. En la mañana también alguien comentaba que deberíamos pensar más en la prevención que en la planificación. Para la atención de emergencias, qué estamos haciendo? Definitivamente hemos identificado que la mayor probabilidad de riesgo que tenemos de incendios son nuestras subestaciones eléctricas. Entonces hay ingenieros de diseño para que puedan instalar los dispositivos de seguridad que puedan abortar o cortar la corriente cuando se ponga en peligro la seguridad" Es muy común que los electricistas puedan abortar ese tipo de dispositivos con la finalidad de no tener que estar yendo a hacer las reparaciones porque se están botando dichos dispositivos.
Hace alrededor de unos seis años platicaba con el Director de la escuela de minas en Francia que tenía la intención de conocer nuestras instalaciones en mina Proaño y coincidía también que era de los principales problemas que se presentan en la industria, entonces nosotros nos hemos abocado a que nuestros ingenieros de diseño en mantenimiento puedan contar con dispositivos apropiados para que no se presente ningún incendio.
En el caso de los scrubtram es de los equipos móviles con mayores probabilidades encontramos la necesidad de entubar, de separar las mangueras del fluido hidráulica ya que sabemos que cualquier perforación a manguera con las presiones que manejamos de 2800 libras por pulgada cuadrada se gasifica inmediatamente y en contacto con la superficie caliente del mismo motor genera un incendio en forma inmediata y difícil de controlar. Todos nuestros equipos de operación, equipos móviles constan con dispositivos para control de fuegos en forma automática, no quisimos depender de la mano del hombre porque es muy común que cuando se llega a presentar un incendio, la gente se asusta y abandone la máquina, sin embargo, el contar con dispositivos semiautomáticos o automáticos nos ayuda a que el control sea inmediato sin necesidad de que participe la gente, eso entre otras cosas pudiera profundizar muchísimo, pero los riesgos principales son esos, instalaciones eléctricas y equipos móviles.
MR. HEWITT: Are there other questions? If not, thank you again.
Our third and last speaker is Barry Simoneau. He is the Director of Risk Management for the Mining Association of Manitoba.
Barry has been in the mining industry for over 30 years. He has provided consulting and training services to the Manitoba mining industry, and has responsibility for overseeing mine rescue preparedness and response capabilities in the province. Barry is on the board of directors for the Workers Compensation Board of Manitoba, a professional member of the Minister of Labour's Advisory Council on Workplace Safety and Health, and the past National President of the Canadian Society of Safety Engineering.
Barry is here fresh from the recent Pan-American Games, where he was the event production director for 10-pin bowling and boxing, an experience, he says, he will cherish forever.
Ladies and gentlemen, please join me in welcoming Barry Simoneau.
MR. BARRIE SIMONEAU (Director for Risk Management, Mining Association of Manitoba): Thank you.
I have a Power Point presentation too. It is an older version. It is a 2.1, so I point to one of my colleagues and he will change the slide for me.
Today's topic, Disaster Planning, is somewhat of a misnomer, since most organizations do not plan for the occurrence of a disaster. However, it is important to note that after the occurrence of a disaster, hindsight will usually present clear indicators that the recipe for disaster was well known in advance, and well within an organization's capability to prevent it.
Mine emergencies or disasters are not a new phenomenon. Incidents of mine fires, explosions, cave-ins and uncontrolled subsidence (sp) of material that result in death, industrial loss or environmental harm are all too clear in many of our mines.
As the mining century enters the 21st century, we face new challenges in the areas of health, safety, emergency preparedness, emergency response and risk management. Our role as safety practitioners and mine operators will be to anticipate the reality of a constantly changing work environment. We must be able to develop and initiate effective leading edge strategies to improve the safety culture and create a safe and healthy climate for the well-being of our industry and for mine workers.
Mineral exploration, extraction and development does not come without risk to human health and safety. Worker safety and the continued well-being and health of workers, their families and surrounding communities, must be of paramount concern in all aspects of the industry. Persistent efforts are required in order to continuously enhance safety in the workplace and prevent human suffering, mine emergencies and crisis situations.
In the province of Manitoba, the majority of our mineral industry is hard rock underground. In an attempt to address this international audience today, my comments will be based on our experiences and the lessons learned in the province of Manitoba. The information I will be sharing with you today is fairly generic, and will have applicability to disaster planning for all types of mines, whether surface or underground.
When I first started working in the mining industry some 30 years ago, significant improvements had been done toward safety in mines. But there was still a long way to go. At that time, there was a strategic shift towards accident prevention techniques. However, many safety initiatives were motivated by crises or by loss.
In today's mine environment, we can be very proud of the fact that over the past ten years, we have been very successful at reducing injury rates, preserving resources and becoming good corporate and community citizens.
I would characterize the current occupational health and safety movement as being partially reactive, with significantly more emphasis on prevention. We are now at a cross-road, challenged by the need to reduce human and industrial losses even further, but I think most of us are unsure how to proceed.
In Manitoba, we believe that further improvement in occupational health, safety and disaster management can only occur if we make a quantum leap from reaction/prevention mode to that which is one of proactivity and prediction. When one considers disaster planning, words which come to mind include risk, hazard, peril, crisis, and catastrophic loss.
Disaster planning can be characterized as, firstly, emergency preparedness response or, perhaps more importantly, emergency preparedness prevention or prediction. The mine emergency preparedness response model prepares an organization for a transition from normal production activities to the effective control of a mine emergency. This requires the development of a comprehensive mine emergency response plan, which should have a component of both prevention activities and response.
During an emergency, it is human nature to want to help, but if assistance is not properly organized or managed, even a minor incident can turn into a major catastrophe in a short time.
Mine emergencies interrupt normal production activities and in some cases prevent normal activities from ever resuming again. When a mine emergency occurs, it is important that the transition from normal management operations to emergency control be smooth and efficient. By establishing and maintaining a mine emergency preparedness program, mine operators can be reasonably certain that personnel will be prepared for a mine emergency operation, and will respond in a smooth and professional manner.
Without this preparation and organization, response may be unorganized and inefficient, and ultimately cause a relatively minor incident to turn deadly.
Let's look at the Emergency Preparedness Program.
When developing the Mine Emergency Preparedness Program, an organization must consider, and it is not limit hazards associated with those emergencies, equipment and resources required to deal with those emergencies, qualifications, and what do you do to protect your emergency response people, and the testing and maintenance of that emergency response program.
Emergency situations can result from many sources, from natural, human and economic peril. For the purposes of this presentation today, I am going to refer only to human and natural perils. Natural perils may include things like weather extremes, earthquakes, fires and flooding, whereas human perils may include arson, structural collapse, explosions, fire and smoke damage, human error, and possibly sabotage.
By identifying the potential emergencies, the boundaries of liability and extent of preparedness in response should be established. An important component of the Emergency Response Program is a Crisis Management Procedures Manual. The information that is most often included in the Manual include what the Manual is all about, its purpose, scope and organization, the structure of the Management Team and the Response Team, so it is the hierarchy of the chain of command. Evacuation instructions, including an explanation of alarms and diagrams of exit routes, et cetera. Definition of the physical layout of the mine -- what is it all about, where are buildings and where are resources located. Loss prevention and loss reduction procedures, probably organized by peril and separated by pre-imposed loss measures.
Procedures and addresses, the tombstone data about your people -- where they are, how to get a hold of them. Communication procedures during and after an emergency, especially if you have had to move people off the property, you need to tell your people when it is time to come back, if it is time to come back, and the procedures and timing of mock emergency tests and the audits that look at the process of the Emergency Response Plan.
Mine management should appoint a Mine Emergency Preparedness Program director, someone who can oversee it all. If you put it all together in a manual and there isn't someone there to manage it, things do not happen. That person must have the ability and experience to administer the program, and have the authority to implement it. Some of the skills that these folks might have is established skills in management, human relations and communication, well grounded knowledge in emergency planning and mine rescue response, general knowledge of the company's resources, processes and the organizational structure.
They must have confidence in what they do, and be able to gain credibility through their workers by what they do and what they say, and they must have the authority to draw on required resources during an emergency.
Some of their responsibilities include assisting in the initial part of the hazard identification, developing the emergency response structure, developing position descriptions and responsibilities, then developing or establishing a committee, developing the procedures manual based on a needs analysis and a hazards analysis, developing training criteria and assisting with the training as appropriate and then finally assisting with the testing of emergency plans.
One of the key roles of the Mine Emergency Director is to establish a Mine Emergency Planning and Implementation Committee. This committee will be integral in developing and maintaining the component segments of the Mine Emergency Preparedness Program. The committee should take responsibility for a number of things.
The appropriate committee members should take responsibility for hazard identification in each of their areas of control or expertise. In addition, they should develop prevention and response strategies to mitigate the occurrence of an emergency, or manage the emergency once it has occurred.
Program planning sessions: These are meetings, which should focus on the overall program and the criteria for event simulations and evacuation tests and procedures.
Looking at instructors, to make sure that the instructors are selected on the basis of quality and ability, and that they can project themselves in a competent manner.
Training materials: They need to be appropriate, they need to be current for emergency response training.
The emergency response simulations: These things need to happen on occasion, to be able to develop an emergency response scenario so that the emergency responders can actually test their skills.
Finally, you need some process by which to evaluate the program. So you need to develop an audit or an evaluation process to determine the effectiveness of the Mine Emergency Program. If you look at it and it is not right, you have to keep going back and fixing it and testing it until it is right.
Without going into more detail on the Mine Emergency Preparedness Plan, I now want to kind of shift and talk a little bit about mine rescue and how that all fits together.
The mine rescue component of the Mine Emergency Response Plan is that which deals with response, rescue and recovery. Mine rescue requires highly qualified personnel who have specialized training and equipment to deal with unusual or dangerous circumstances.
Mine rescue response teams are deployed in underground, open pit, confined space, and high angle situations where normal rescue response is not feasible by normal rescue people. It is often said that the mine rescue teams enter hazardous environments after everyone capable of getting out. One occasion, I was heading into the mine when all the rest of my colleagues were on their way out.
The most effective and logical structure to the mine rescue component of the Mine Emergency Response Plan includes the rescue control group, the briefing officer as he is called in Ontario, and in Manitoba, the resource coordinator, mine rescue instructors, equipment technicians, and those people who put their lives on the line every day, the mine rescue team members.
Unfortunately, this presentation cannot present a detailed description of the responsibilities of all of these people, but since most people are familiar with the role of the mine rescue instructors, the equipment technicians and certainly the responders, I will only confine my comments to the rescue control group and the rescue coordinator.
The rescue control group has the responsibility for the overall management of a mine emergency response. Some of the people who might be in this rescue control group would certainly be your mine emergency program director -- that is the person who has control of it, ownership of it, and probably has developed it. Your director of operations. A director of operations is typically that person who has control of all the other resources under him or her. Technical support people would include engineering, geology, maintenance, electrical. Those are the people who have technical skills.
Then we look at service support personnel, which would be people with communication skills, public relations, administration, material handling, transportation and medical.
Each of these people possess special skills that will help manage the mine emergency in a professional and efficient manner. They are important, and they are critical. So you need to work them into the plan somehow.
The rescue coordinator is essential to the successful management of emergency response personnel, and acts as the liaison between the control group and the emergency response personnel. The rescue coordinator is responsible for emergency response personnel while they are on a mission, and the decisions made by that rescue coordinator must never compromise the safety of the emergency respondents. So some of their responsibility is to maintain communications with emergency response personnel at the control centre, recording the progress of the emergency response personnel and relaying that information to the control centre, and coordinating and managing all the other people who help to support that response team that is at the disaster site.
As you can see, the detail necessary to prepare for an occurrence of an emergency is a major undertaking. I indicated earlier in this presentation that the mining industry is now at a crossroad, trying to determine how to move forward to reduce human and industrial losses even further.
This is really where I want to move you, because I have heard my other colleagues talking about the response then the question, very appropriately placed, was: What are you doing about prevention. I am going to take you in to talk about prevention.
Emergency Preparedness Prevention or Emergency Preparedness Predictive. This approach incorporates the principles of risk management into a proactive or a predictive model. If we look at risk, risk may be defined as a measure of both the likelihood and the consequences of all hazards associated or potentially associated with an activity or a condition.
More simply put, risk is a chance of encountering harm or loss due to a hazard or a peril. Risks that were once taken in the mining industry that were considered acceptable, because they did not result in a major loss or injury, are no longer accepted, either by mining people or by society.
Risk management is a control technique that may be characterized as "any conscious decision to act, or not to act, that prevents or reduces the frequency, severity and unpredictability of accidental losses". Although predicting accidents might not seem possible, many people have studied accidents to determine their causes.
By knowing the cause of past accidents, organizations are better able to prevent future accidents by removing their causes, thus preventing a crisis from occurring.
The risk management process involves five basic components. There is risk identification, risk analysis, risk elimination or reduction, risk financing, and the administration of the risk management process.
It can be further divided into two sub groups, which are post-loss, which has already been discussed under the Emergency Preparedness Response, and pre-loss, which we are currently discussing as Emergency Preparedness Prevention/Prediction.
Today I will address Risk Identification and Risk Analysis, and briefly touch on the third point, which is Risk Elimination or Reduction.
As previously discussed, a crisis is a turning point in a sequence of events, a point in time at which crucial actions or events significantly shape the future. In predictive risk management, a hazard or risk that has potential to cause a catastrophic loss can be influenced by people's actions prior to the occurrence of an emergency situation. The outcome of the crisis depends on the appropriateness, effectiveness and timeliness of their actions.
For a positive outcome, response to a risk must be planned in advance and will incorporate some form of predictive risk management.
When developing a strategy which considers emergency preparedness prevention, mine operators must first determine the hazards or risks associated with mine processes or activities, and then attempt to understand the impact of those hazards by conducting a risk analysis.
So risk identification is not a simple task, because it is easy to overlook hazards or activities that have the potential to cause a loss. So it requires training and experience to be able to identify sub-standard conditions or sub-standard acts, understand the cumulative effect of activities or the complexity of operations, equipment and facilities.
The key elements of risk identification, and this is kind of regurgitating what we have talked about before, certainly you need to identify the hazards. Then you need to gather the facts and the data about those hazards. You need to do some examination of history, look at accidents, and kind of look to the future. You need to apply some systematic techniques, which might be audits or analytical processes. You need to bring in some people who have specialties, and you need to use checklists and standards by which to look at the risk factors.
Risk analysis is really the crux of the whole thing. It is the application of qualitative and quantitative techniques to potential risks. Qualitative risk characteristics are used to identify and evaluate existing and potential workplace and environmental hazards, whereas quantitative risk characteristics identify numerical relationships between an exposure to a hazard and the actual occurrence of adverse effects to human health or the environment. So it is a cause and effects relationship.
In addition, it usually involves frequency, which deals with a likelihood that an event will occur or that a hazard will be present. Then severity, which is the effect of an event when it occurs. It can be measured in terms of death, of injury, of disease, of illness, loss of equipment. It is often expressed in financial terms.
So the five critical components is that the likelihood of the hazard or risk resulting in an emergency, the frequency that the hazard is either present or will occur, exposure factors, loss potential if the hazard or event occurs, and impact on a particular activity or to the organization as a whole.
Each of these factors can be assigned a numerical value, which can ultimately be expressed as a risk factor. So we could talk low, medium, moderate, high and critical.
Let me draw an example, see if we can put all this together and put it in perspective. I will give you a scenario: Assume that a mine rescue team has determined that the D ring on safety valves they are currently using no longer provide the protection necessary to work over open holes and during high angle rescue work. Mine management has indicated that they will only replace the D ring belts with whole body harness if mine rescue can demonstrate the need to replace them.
We take the five points of the risk analysis process and we try to qualify it with a number. When we look, we say "What is the risk?" The risk is substandard harness system. When we look, the harness system will result in an emergency. Two mine rescue people have already been injured, so the mine rescue people, when they rated it, they rated it between 1 and 100, they rated it high, at 90.
Frequency of the substandard harness system being used: Very high. The mine rescue team is engaged often in high level work. They feel that mine rescue people are at significant risk, so they rated it at 100.
Exposure: The mine rescue person puts on a belt and goes over an open hole or is at high level, they are at risk, at 100 per cent risk. So they assign 100.
The loss: That is fairly obvious. The loss is that if someone slips through a harness or is severely injured because of an improper fall arrest mechanism, then the consequences are serious. Again they rated it at 100.
The impact on the company, or the ability to complete the task, was not rated high by these people. The reason was unknown. Perhaps it was assumed that the mine rescue component of the organization was not absolutely critical to the overall production, so they rated it 85.
If you take all these numbers and you multiply them all together, you come up with a substantial large number, which is 7 billion, 650 trillion, something like that. Then you take that large number and you look up the logarithm of that, which suggests that it is 9.88 on a scale of 1 to 10, which suggests to me that this is a critical risk factor.
That analysis was then taken to management. Guess what happened? Once Mine Rescue presented these numbers to senior management, they recognized that this was valid and they had brand new, full body harness the next day.
It should be noted that the acquisition of full body harness did not eliminate all risks associated with this type of rescue work, but has reduced the risk associated with falls.
Once operational risks have been identified, eliminating them can be attempted, keeping in mind that not all risk can be eliminated, Minimizing the effect of the risk -- in other words, trying to find some way to make it less of a risk -- eliminate it completely, get rid of it; tolerate the risk, say "We understand it is there, but we have to live with it. It is just one of those things." And finally, you transfer the risk. You might do that by the classic way of ensuring it and letting somebody else assume it.
In conclusion, mine operators must recognize that there are hazards and risks associated with every mine production process. Disaster planning, whether it be response, prevention or prediction oriented, is crucial to the health and safety of mine workers and to the viability of the mining industry.
Finally, if your company or if your organization is at a crossroad and you are seeking new ways to reduce current and future losses, I encourage you to direct your energy towards the emergency preparedness, prevention, predictive model rather than looking back in history and preparing for the disaster, as we have talked about in the emergency preparedness prevention response model. Thank you.
MR. HEWITT: Thank you, Barry.
Does anybody have any questions for Barry?
Question Period - Période de questions - Período de Preguntas
NEW SPEAKER: ¿Qué medidas preventivas tienen establecidas cuando existe el riesgo de que las obras mineras subterráneas conecten a algún acuífero?
MR. SIMONEAU: I would need you to repeat it, please.
NEW SPEAKER: ¿Cuáles son las principales medidas preventivas que tienen establecidas cuando existe el riesgo de que las obras mineras subterráneas conecten algún acuífero, o a algún lago?
MR. SIMONEAU: It just so happens that in the province of Manitoba all mines are under lakes. I guess the bottom line is, we try to keep enough of a crown pillar below or above the mine working so that we do not have an inrush of water. I don't know if that answers your question.
It is certainly looking at engineering principles, to say, we know how competent the shell is above the workings, and have the bottom of the lake.
Mr. HEWITT: Any other questions for Barry? If not, I would like to thank our three speakers today. Well done.