Exposure to various dangers and injuries associated with chemicals in the mining industry can be prevented by applying the correct protective systems, which include the application of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE).
Because of the diversity of applications and potential of hazards , it is advisable to undertake a systematic risk analysis when selecting personal protective equipment.
Prof Lindiwe Zungu, a specialist in the occupational health and safety from the University of South Africa, says PPE should be carefully selected, based on the following criterion: the nature of the hazard(s), the levels of risks associated with those hazards, and the physical attributes of the individual workers.
Beyond providing suitable technical protection, she adds, safety specialists must actively take into account factors such as user comfort, user fitting, maintenance and storage factors when assessing possible and alternative PPE solutions.
Continuous environmental changes present conditions such as the emergence of new and unfamiliar hazards. Therefore, initiatives such as education and training should be carried out consistently for employees to understand and accept responsibilities in identifying risks and taking the necessary safety precautions.
A speciliast in Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), Sandy Havenga of Falmit, underlines the importance of professional advice are essential when assessing and selecting outfit for hazardous environments.
Mine operators need to consult with their employees , as PPE end-users during the selection, says Havenga: “Consultation with employees instills a sense of responsibility and cooperation to comply with the use of PPE provided.
Exposure to hazardous chemicals
Various chemicals have the potential to pose risks to miners at many stages of their life cycle, from the initial manufacture through to end use and long time after usage.
Chemicals used in the mining industry are different from other industries in terms of composition, which renders them more hazardous. They may include several types of particulates, naturally occurring gases, engine exhaust, chemical vapours, heat, changes in barometric pressure, ionizing radiation, and etc.
Various studies have established that exposure to these chemicals thus pose risks of developing diseases associated with these hazards such as silicosis and other chronic illnesses affecting lungs.