Persons working in hazardous locations have to understand their environment, its associated risks and the applicable laws and standards better, the South African Flameproof Association (Safa) tells Mining Weekly, stating that education is of paramount importance.
In addition, better monitoring in the workplace is required to ensure that standards are adhered to, the association adds.
Safa says, while South Africa’s safety standards are in line with international best practices, “in practice, we see too many instances where the standards and regulations are not complied with”.
Further, coupled with the twin challenges of awareness of and adherence to safety standards are technical advancements, which result in changes in legislation, and continual changes in standards.
“While flameproofing, as a technology, does not change that much, other protection techniques, particularly those involving electronics, result in continuous changes in the standards. Keeping up with these changes is challenging and often involves dedicated personnel to keep an operation in line and compliant,” Safa says.
The association notes that new technologies regarding flameproofing and protection are traditionally first applied in surface industries before they are applied to the mining environment.
This usually results in the mines lagging in terms of technology; however, this does allow for the technology to mature before its use in a mining environment, which has its an advantages.
For example, fieldbus technologies are increasingly being used, while advances are also being made in intrinsically safe technologies, and they can offer higher power outputs than was previously the case.
Analysis of the Dynamic Arc Recognition and Termination (DART) technology is ongoing and the test laboratories are still trying to reach consensus on how to align this technology with the standards, Safa comments.
DART technology detects a change of current and voltage in an electric circuit, and switches the circuit off in a few micro-seconds, preventing sparks from becoming incendiary.