Mining Publication: An Environmentally Robust Proximity Warning System for Hazardous Areas
Proximity warning devices can improve workplace safety by alerting workers when they are in a hazardous area near moving equipment. Industrial work sites often present extreme challenges to safety-based proximity warning devices. Many commercially available types of proximity warning sensors and systems can be rendered useless when covered with mud, ice, snow, ore, rock, and other material. The list includes radar, ultrasonic, capacitive, and visual types of sensors and systems. Addressing these shortcomings, NIOSH personnel have developed a patented active proximity warning system called HASARD (Hazardous Area Signaling and Ranging Device) which employs low-frequency, low-power magnetic fields which are quite impervious to severe environmental conditions. A shapeable wire loop antenna which provides the marker of dangerous work areas, has been mounted on a continuous mining machine and was mounted inside 1.3-cm thick angle iron. This loop antenna was exposed to more than six months of active underground coal production, which included being covered by and scraped over with tons of rock, sprayed by a continuous stream of water, and immersed in thick mud. After six months the loop antenna showed signs of wear, but was still capable of performing its intended function. The HASARD system is now being applied to other industrial applications and is showing much promise, especially in harsh environments. This paper details the system, describes the tests that have been done, and mentions other areas where it can benefit the safety of industrial workers.