Wearable devices set to boost mineworker safety

Issue 2 2022 News & Events, 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:

Pentagon appointed as Milestone distributor
Elvey Security Technologies News & Events Surveillance
Milestone Systems appointed Pentagon Distribution (an Elvey Group company within the Hudaco Group of Companies) as a distributor. XProtect’s open architecture means no lock-in and the ability to customise the connected video solution that will accomplish the job.

Local manufacturing is still on the rise
Hissco Editor's Choice News & Events Security Services & Risk Management
HISSCO International, Africa's largest manufacturer of security X-ray products, has recently secured a multi-continental contract to supply over 55 baggage X-ray screening systems in 10 countries.

SAIDSA achieves ISO 9001 certification
SAIDSA(SA Intruder Detection Services Association) Associations News & Events Training & Education
The South African Intruder Detection Services Association (SAIDSA) has announced that it has achieved ISO 9001:2015 certification. This milestone reflects its commitment to quality management and excellence in the security services industry.

Detecting humans within vehicles without opening the doors
Flow Systems News & Events Security Services & Risk Management
Flow Systems has introduced its new product, which detects humans trying to hide within a vehicle, truck, or container. Vehicles will be searched once they have stopped before one of Flow Systems' access control boom barriers.

Fluss launches the next wave of IoT solutions
IoT & Automation Access Control & Identity Management News & Events
Fluss has announced its newest IoT product; Fluss+ continues to allow users to manage access from anywhere globally and brings with it all the advantages of Wi-Fi connectivity.

A standards-based, app approach to risk assessments
Security Services & Risk Management News & Events
[Sponsored] Risk-IO is web-based and designed to consolidate and guide risk managers through the whole risk process. In this article, SMART Security Solutions asks Zulu Consulting to tell us more about Risk-IO and how it came to be.

SMART speakers: Uncovering the hidden S in ESG
SMART Security Solutions News & Events
Chris Galvin from the International Code of Conduct Association speaks about the role of responsible security in sustainable business practice.

SMART speakers: Bomb threat management protocols
SMART Security Solutions News & Events
Jimmy Roodt, an explosives expert from Gauntlet Security Solutions, will speak on bomb threat protocols, the lack thereof, and why your fire emergency protocols are not an acceptable substitute.

AP Sensing
News & Events
AP Sensing is a leading German provider of distributed fibre optic sensing solutions for monitoring critical infrastructure.

Gemini Automation Systems
News & Events
Step into the future of home security and convenience with Gemini Automation Systems at Securex 2024, where it will unveil its latest innovations.