Mining Publication: Safety Framework for Programmable Electronics in Mining
Mining has one of the highest annual average fatality rates among major U.S. industries. Health and safety dangers have been inherent to mining since the early days of picks and shovels. Even though miners' health and safety has improved over the years, mining is still one of the most dangerous occupations. Mining was traditionally a low tech industry. It is now driven by competitive pressures to go high-tech by using programmable electronics (PE) for machine control, atmospheric monitoring and material processing. The industry's experience with the functional safety of PE is limited compared with other industries. Thus, PE is an emerging technology for mining that can potentially create or worsen hazards. The U.S. National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), Pittsburgh Research Laboratory in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania is addressing the safety of this new technology. NIOSH has a proactive project to generate recommendations for addressing the functional safety of PE-based mining systems before the technology proliferates. The recommendations take the form of a safety framework encompassing the entire life cycle for a PE-based mining system.