Every year, mining fatalities rise during the winter season. The risk of getting ill, injured or killed is doubled, if not tripled, with the combination of low humidity, low barometric pressures and seasonal drying of some areas in coal mines.
During winter, coal dust is suspended in the atmosphere what with the air being dryer than usual. This increases the hazard of explosion. Winter also brings about low barometric pressures, helping methane spread easily into active areas, thus heightening the risk of again, an explosion. As if these were not enough, winter makes walkways slippery, provides workers with limited visibility during harsh weather and freezes and thaws highwalls.
Here are safety guidelines coal miners and operators must follow to ensure better safety for miners in winter.
- Perform frequent mine examinations. This is especially true when the weather is changing.
- Make sure underground areas are well-ventilated. Refer to the mine’s approved ventilation plan and follow it consistently.
- Apply liberal amounts of rock dust in all areas of the mine.
- Frequently conduct inspections of mining areas for methane gas buildup.
- Ensure that potential ignition sources are kept out of working areas all the time.