Drills are perhaps the most important equipment used for underground mining operations. Drills are used to make holes descending deep below the ground so as to reach and extract mineral deposits. If mine workers need to work in underground tunnels, drills can also be used to make holes that are large enough to act as an entryway for the miners. However, the use of drills is a dangerous job, and mining contractors must do everything possible to make sure that drilling operations are performed safely.
Here are a number of inherent safety hazards mining contractors should be aware of before engaging in any drilling operations.
It is common for debris to turn into high-speed projectiles when the drills come into contact with the ground. If these flying elements come into physical contact with those working onsite, it could result in serious injuries. This risk is very high in blasthole drilling. Mining contractors should instruct all workers concerned with drilling operations to maintain a safe distance from the impact points, so that they do not get harmed by the particulates flying in the air at high speed. Aside from that, workers should be instructed to wear safety goggles and protective clothing during drilling jobs. Also, extra safety measures like strategically placing deflector plates onsite should be used to stop projectiles in their trajectory.
As drills cut through the ground, they can vibrate a lot. These vibrations can expose miners to a health risk known as Whole Body Vibration, which can lead to complicated health conditions such as cardiovascular changes, musculoskeletal disorders, nerve damage and even digestive problems. WBV is often caused by working from vibrating equipment for prolonged lengths of time. Mining contractors can protect workers involved in drilling operations from the risk of WBV by ensuring they do not work on vibrating equipment for long hours.
Drilling equipment often generate high decibels of noise when they are being used. If people working at the drilling site are not protected from excessive noise, they can suffer from partial or even permanent hearing loss. Mine workers should be provided with personal protective equipment, such as ear muffs to protect them against hearing loss. Aside from that, mining contractors should do their best to use drills that are designed to operate quietly.
The dust that is produced during drilling applications is a source of air pollution, but it can also lead to respiratory problems for onsite workers. Mining contractors can keep dust levels down by opting for the wet drilling technique, which ensures the dust is watered down before it becomes airborne. Workers should be provided with dust masks and other personal protective equipment that can offer protection against inhalation of harmful dust.