Every year workers suffer injuries and fatalities working on or near the equipment on mining and aggregate sites.
Safety should be a priority for us in the aggregate industry. The industry has a difficult time attracting and keeping qualified personnel and unsafe environments don’t help. The cost of poor safety is not only tragic and a waste of human potential, it costs money.
One of the problems that operators may encounter is that the physical distance between each piece of equipment may be so great that it may be impossible to reach the equipment in time to prevent an occurrence, if you can even see it. If there’s 250 feet in between you and all you can see is smoke in the distance because there’s a 15’ high obstruction between you and the rising plume of black smoke and the smell of burnt rubber that’s 300’ away
What follows are three simple methods aggregate operators can increase the safety of their workers: Taglines, Radio Shutdowns, and Control Towers .
Taglines are a well-known and reliable, mechanical solution for shutting down equipment. Taglines are installed on each piece of large equipment as a cord or cable connected to an electronic shut off switch box on the equipment. If a worker experiences a problem or sees the equipment is malfunctioning, that tagline cord can be pulled to shut off that individual piece of equipment or the whole operation depending on how the system is set up.
Most crushing equipment manufacturers, will install taglines if requested by a customer
Tag lines are a simple, reliable method for stopping machine operation when a problem is perceived. Taglines do present a challenge in that the employee noticing the issue must be close to the tag line to act.
Radio shut down systems are newer and are becoming more popular in aggregate crushing operations. The systems are usually part of an employee’s walkie talkie as a separate safety shut off button or activated by keying the microphone button in a series, for example two rapid presses of the microphone button. The radios are work with control box which is set up in the plant.
If a worker perceives an unsafe situation in trouble, they can press the emergency button on his device and shut down the entire plant. The advantage of a radio system is that the employee doesn’t have to be within reach of the tagline to shut down a plant when imminent danger is noticed.
Many operations now have Control Towers, and built into the control tower switchboard is a large red shutdown button. From the tower view of the entire spread, an operator can spot a problem and shut down all the equipment at once by hitting that shut down button. In some cases, customers request a second emergency shutdown button on the outside of the control tower at ground level, just in case the operator isn’t in the tower when something goes wrong. Some operations have the control tower shutdown feature and the radio shutdowns for their workers.
Which shut down option is best for your operation?
There are advantages and disadvantages to each of these ways to shut down your equipment in an emergency.
Regardless of the size of your operation, having a method to shut down some or all equipment immediately is an important safety feature and prevents unnecessary equipment damage. The risk to life and limb, equipment damage and the unsafe act of running around in a panic to shut down equipment outweighs the cost of these systems.
If you would like to learn more about these ways to shut down some or all of your equipment in an emergency situation, contact ELRUS. We know and understand all three of these important ways to protect workers, and we can advise you on what makes sense for your operation. Give us a call.