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Improved recognition of lifeline tactile signals by miners.

Kingsley Westerman C; Peters R
Coal Age 2011 Sep; 116(9):40-43
Lifelines can be especially helpful when miners must escape on foot in conditions of very low visibility (e.g. due to smoke or the absence of light). Conducting regular assessments of each miner's knowledge and skills with respect to lifelines should be a key component of miner safety training. The better prepared miners are to escape from the mine quickly, the better their ultimate chances of survival. Recent NIOSH research reveals several ways miners can be helped to improve their recognition of lifeline tactile signals. Lifelines with various tactile signals have been required by federal regulation 30 CFR Part 74.380 since 2009. There are now five types of tactile signals on lifelines: directional cones (which indicate the direction to go outby), a coil to indicate a refuge chamber, two sets of double cones to indicate a self-contained, self-rescuer (SCSR) cache, two directional cones in a row to indicate a branch line, and a ball to indicate a personnel door. These signals were instituted to provide an additional navigational tool to help miners escape in the event of an emergency. Despite the implementation of this new safety feature, miners may not always remember what the signals mean, especially in an emergency situation. It is important miners are able to identify the signals reliably because it could save them a significant amount of time while trying to escape. In addition to telling them which direction is outby, the signals could save them time because, instead of following a branch line to find out where it leads, miners can feel the signal at the beginning of the branch line and immediately know what is available at the end. They can also immediately identify when a line is a branch line as opposed to the main lifeline which leads them directly out of the mine. During underground mine emergencies, miners typically evacuate as part of a crew or small group. Therefore, it is important they know how to work effectively as a team to plan and carry out their evacuation. However, it is impossible to predict the circumstances under which a miner may need to navigate out of the mine. If miners are working alone or become separated from their crew, they must be able to escape on their own. Because of this, miners should not depend on their fellow crew members to get them out of the mine, but rather should know how to escape on their own. It is important that each and every miner be able to identify the lifeline signals independently of the rest of the crew.
Mine-workers; Miners; Mining-industry; Underground-mining; Underground-miners; Safety-measures; Safety-practices; Safety-education; Training; Humans; Men; Coal-miners; Coal-mining; Mine-disasters; Mine-escapes; Mine-rescue
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Coal Age
Page last reviewed: January 7, 2022
Content source: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Education and Information Division