Wearable devices set to boost mineworker safety

Issue 2 2022 News, Integrated Solutions

Health and safety in South Africa’s mining industry has steadily improved over the past 15 years. In 2007, the industry recorded a startling figure of over 200 deaths and while that number has been significantly reduced with 72 fatalities reported last December, the ultimate goal, of course, is ‘zero harm’ as Minister of Mineral Resources, Gwede Mantashe noted. How is this goal to be reached? Innovative applications of smart technologies are an integral part of the solution and Vodacom is leading the way with its Internet-of-Things (IoT) technology.

In mid-2021, the first successful trial of the Connected Worker solution by Vodacom Business was introduced to a global mining company with various operations across the country. “The solution centres on a connected, track-and-trace wearable device for mineworkers, with a linked data-insights dashboard that gives real-time feedback to health and safety officers,” explains Thando Sibindi, managing executive for Mining Resources and Manufacturing at Vodacom. “In this trial, we deployed 8000 devices which enabled better oversight and management of worker safety, team productivity and the resource scheduling of contractors. It goes without saying that improved safety and productivity are an added benefit which in turn results in cost savings for the operator in the long run,” adds Sibindi.

Smart technology in action

The smart device, resembling a smart watch, is based on NarrowBand Internet-of-Things (NB-IoT) technology which drastically improves the battery life of the device, even in hard-to-reach coverage areas, such as a mine. The easy-to-wear device can be hooked onto a mineworker’s personal protective equipment (PPE), with features including a device-battery status and GPS location, hazardous-gas sensors, fall and no-motion detection and a panic button.

“This means the device will log an alert, in real-time if the worker presses the panic button, falls or is injured and is not moving, enabling a rapid emergency response that could save a life,” notes Sibindi. “Should the worker enter a hazardous or restricted area – these are geofenced on a digitised map by the company ahead of device deployment – it will trigger a notification so they can move back to safety.”

For the mining operator, having real-time insights of each worker’s whereabouts in the mine is indispensable. This not only serves as an added safety measure to keep workers out of danger, but it also allows the company to see how much time is spent in assigned areas of production by various workers to help improve overall productivity and increase effective resource scheduling. The operator will have incident reports for an overview of their site’s health and safety environment, including daily incident reports of gas detection over the previous 24 hours.

Shaping mines of the future

The global number of connected IoT devices is growing rapidly. While there were 11,3 billion in 2020, estimates suggest this will exceed 27 billion by 2025. Clearly, this technology will be one of the main drivers across industries in the future and mining will be no exception. Forward-thinking mines will increasingly rely on IoT as one of many solutions for driving critical areas of growth, such as health and safety.

“The reality is ‘fit for the future’ companies across various industries are embracing Internet of technology solutions because they’ve started reaping the benefits of an IoT-led future,” concludes Sibindi.

Share this article:
Share via emailShare via LinkedInPrint this page

Further reading:

Prevention-first approach to cybersecurity
News Cyber Security
Check Point CEO, Gil Shwed, highlights the increasing importance of artificial intelligence in defending evolving networks and protecting against cyber threats at annual CPX 360 customer and partner event.

Three new portable power stations to ease load shedding
News Security Services & Risk Management Products
EcoFlow has launched three portable power stations that provide sufficient power for consumers wherever they are; the DELTA 2 and RIVER 2 Series are feature-filled power solutions to the volatile electricity supply.

UJ and Schneider Electric launch 4IR Experience Room
Schneider Electric and the University of Johannesburg (UJ) Faculty of Engineering and Built Environment (FEBE) have officially unveiled the 4IR Experience Room, a first for UJ and situated at the university’s Auckland Park Campus.

SafeCity Guarding rolls out across 14 suburbs in Johannesburg
News Security Services & Risk Management
In a major drive to provide communities across Johannesburg with additional safety, Vumacam, in partnership with Fidelity ADT and other security providers across the region, rolled out the innovative SafeCity Guarding initiative in 14 suburbs.

Providing an interactive branding platform
Securex South Africa News Conferences & Events
Now in its 30th year of providing security technology and services providers with a platform for increasing their brand exposure, Securex South Africa will be held at the Gallagher Convention Centre in Midrand, from the 6th to 8th June 2023.

ALX sponsored learning programmes for 2023
Training & Education News
With a mission to harness Africa's abundant human capital by developing two million ethical and entrepreneurial young leaders from the continent by 2030, ALX has launched four fully sponsored (at no cost) tech programmes for 2023.

LockBit ransomware gang most apt to leak stolen victim data
Trellix has released The Threat Report: February 2023 from its Advanced Research Centre, combining telemetry collected from the world’s largest network of endpoint protection installs and its complete XDR product line with data gathered from open- and closed-source intelligence reports.

Schneider Electric is looking for your bold idea
Schneider Electric has launched this year’s Schneider Go Green, an annual competition that invites university students from across the globe to share their ideas for innovations that can help make the world cleaner, more inclusive, and more sustainable.

Keeping students, staff and communities safe
Vumacam News CCTV, Surveillance & Remote Monitoring Security Services & Risk Management
South African schools are facing increasing security challenges, making effective surveillance systems more important than ever. To address this issue, Vumacam is offering advanced security solutions with security partners, aimed at keeping students, staff, and the community safe.

Arcules and IMMIX announce integration
News CCTV, Surveillance & Remote Monitoring Products
Arcules has announced that its integration with Immix Central Station and Guard Force is available. The integration provides Central Station and Guard Force users a way to manage, verify, and respond to security events, while using Arcules-managed video feeds.