Mining Publication: Mine Illumination: A Historical and Technological Perspective
Illumination plays a critical role in mining because miners depend on proper illumination to safely perform their work and to see various mine and machinery-related hazards. Open-flame lamps were used in the early days of mining, but these often caused disastrous mine explosions. During 1914, two engineers from the U.S. Bureau of Mines (USBM) formed a new company, Mine Safety Appliances, and initiated work with Thomas Edison for an electric cap lamp. This electric cap lamp was approved in 1915 by the USBM. The seminal works in mine illumination research were dominated by the USBM. They addressed many issues in permissibility, human factors, and researched new lighting technologies. The current mine regulations and test procedures for mine illumination are based on USBM research. Today, illumination technology is drastically changing with light emitting diodes (LEDs) that could revolutionize mine illumination just as was done by the 1915 electric cap lamp. Researchers at the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) are leading the way in the human factors and technological aspects of LED research for mine illumination to improve the safety of miners.