There have many instances of deaths or injuries to mining employees as well as damage to equipment due to lightning strikes in the mining industry. These incidents could have been prevented with the use of a quality lightning detector and a “Lightning Safety Plan” that is strictly enforced by both management and all employees.
There are too many cases of lightning strikes causing significant injuries, deaths and expensive damage to valuable equipment in the mining industry that the risks must be taken seriously. These incidents are not rare and preventive steps should be taken by both management and employees in areas where severe lightning storms take place.
In one recent incident, two miners were killed when lightning struck a nearby hauling vehicle. A tragic example that is all to common in the mining industry. According to an article in Yale Scientific, 14 miners were killed in South Africa during November of 2013. South Africa (and other countries that experience warm humid weather) are especially at risk of death due to lightning storms with as many as 250 people being killed each year.
Death and injury sustained by lightning strikes are not the only concerning to mining operations. There are numerous reports of heavy financial losses as the result of not adequately preparing for the risk of thunderstorms.
Lightning Detectors For Prevention
Having a Lightning Safety Plan (LSP) in place is imperative for mining companies that operate in areas where there is high risk of lightning storms. Part of this plan should include an early detection system such as a high-quality SkyScan portable detector.
While an LSP provides for policies and procedures to ensure personal safety as well as protection of equipment, knowing in advance when lightning could strike will help those in the area to plan ahead and prepare. With the benefit of lead time, mining employees can prepare for both the protection of equipment susceptible to lightning damage and more importantly, for their health and safety. Knowing when its safe to resume normal activities after a lightning storm has passed a safe distance away can improve productivity greatly. Having notice of how far away a lightning storm is, , can provide information to workers on making wise decisions, especially when this information is incorporated into a lightning safety plan.
Ensuring lightning safety at your mining operation also requires adhering to or exceeding standards for protection of equipment. There have been numerous reports of lightning strikes damaging radio towers and electronic equipment that is necessary for continued operations due to faulty installation. In addition, ensuring standards have been met can also protect employees. In one event, due to poor grounding, a radio operator was killed when lightning struck the building he was operating from.
People can also be killed due to lightning strikes even if they have not been directly hit. On more than one occasion, lightning has caused methane gas to explode, killing miners. Lightning can strike from as far away as 10 miles and storms at his distance should be treated with extreme caution. When thunder roars take cover!