Mining disasters and incidents are an unfortunate side to the historic industry. Even with the wealth of technology available today, dated procedures or methods constrain the safety and increase risk far above the level that could be achieved.
Like today the mines in the 1800s were subject to pockets of gas and dust which were highly volatile and flammable. Mining was in fact the first industry where Intrinsically Safe (IS) devices were realised as a solution to certain hazardous risks. Whilst today there are modern vacuum and extractors available, the revelation of the hazard of that using certain instruments around these substances can cause still applies today. Inspection methods in mining require mines and the equipment associated with the industry to be in top condition at all times. Printed paper checklists are however a thing of the past, they have no viable future in the face of modern technology. IS devices have not only made lighting safe like the famous Davy Lamp of 1815 did, but IS certified mobile devices are aiding inspectors in carrying out their job roles efficiently and accurately. Paperless solutions are showing mining the way forward. The customisable inspection checklists are proving to be a powerful and easy to use too for managers, inspectors and those between.
IS-certified mobile devices give inspectors the possibility to use software as a method for recording, with all the features and functionalities of a smartphone associated with it. The camera function, speech-to-text services and easy annotation on the device gives inspectors a versatile input method. Inspection checklists can therefore become a more detailed and accurate piece of recording. The glaring problem of inspection methods in mining is that there is rarely a Wi-Fi or 3G/4G signal strong enough to penetrate the earth’s bedrock. The latest digital inspection checklists combat this through offline recording abilities meaning no inspector is location restricted. The GPS timestamp function is also a great tool for mining inspectors. Paperless solutions also represent a valuable inspection method for those managing the process. In-depth analysis and metrics means dynamic reports can be created via the software. This, like the storage of the data can be in-house or through cloud based computing, removing the need to store dusty paper checklists storage spaces. As machinery continues to evolve and the materials sought shift, the best way to stay ahead of incidents is through digital inspection checklists.