While PPE is generally considered the last line of defense for workers, it can create a life or death (or severe impairment) polarity for miners!
Mining remains a dangerous industry, where various hazards can cause differing degrees of injury to their workers. These can range from minor through to life-altering or even ending injuries. Accidents happen, and while measures are put in place to safeguard against them, they can cause loss of limbs or even death!
Just like it is required in any other workplace, OHSA requires that employers take steps to ensure the health and safety of their staff, which includes the compliance requirement of needing to provide PPE to their workers at no cost and to ensure that this not only fits well but is well maintained.
Hereunder are a few pieces of PPE equipment that can be used to keep workers/safe while working in the mine.
• Hard Hats: There are varying classes of hard hats dependent on the need and condition of the site - some will call for a complete closed hat to protect against water or ensure ventilation, while others are fitted with LEF lights to provide adequate lighting.
• Safety Glasses: This can sometimes be incorporated with a full respirator or available separately; workers must provide these regardless of choice. They prevent microscopic debris from entering the eyes and prevent chemical accidents or spills/splashes. Glasses or Goggles can also be fitted with a full face shield.
• Breathing Protection: Dust exposure can cause several severe medical conditions. Respiratory Protection needs to be given to all workers; this can be a cover for both the mouth and nose, with replaceable filters, or a powered air-purifying respiratory.
• Hearing Protection: Tools, vehicles, and loud machinery on the go within confined spaces can major strain workers' hearing. The risk can be mitigated with earmuffs or earplugs, preventing hearing loss.
• High Visibility: Reflective clothing can come in handy, particularly in mines with small and noisy spaces. All workers should be given reflective clothing, including jackets and shirts, to be easily seen.
• Hand and Footwear: Miners should wear tough or durable protective footwear fitted with steel toes at all times during their workday. The types of boots or safety shoes will differ according to the environment, and each serves a different purpose - some are waterproof while others have puncture-proof soles. The same can be said for the hands of the worker, which are of obvious importance in a manually laborious occupation. Safety Gloves come in cotton or leather.
PPE Equipment should be selected carefully, and the purpose thereof should be taken into account when purchasing. The Safety Manager should analyze the risks and benefits.