Risk control measures relating to explosion prevention in coal mines
28 November 2013
Explosions at coal mines worldwide have been occurring ever since coal mining began.
One such explosion in 1913, at Senghenydd mine in South Wales, resulted in over 400 people dying which is still the largest single loss of life in a British coalmine.
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The explosion at Pike River coal mine in New Zealand in 2010 resulted in 29 people dying and a Royal Commission. The last explosion at a British coal mine was at Kellingley mine in Yorkshire in 2010.
The flammable gases in coal mines are:
a) methane given off from the coal measures,
b) hydrogen given off by underground fires in confined spaces or when charging and
discharging electrical batteries,
c) carbon monoxide given off by diesel engines and the use of explosives underground or by underground fires in confined spaces.
The potential ignition sources that can be present in coal mines are:
a) portable gas detectors, cap lamps and flame safety lamps,
b) spontaneous combustion,
c) open fire / heat sources,
Dr John Ford
e) the use of explosives,
f) electrostatic sparking,
g) electrical equipment,
h) mechanical equipment,
i) frictional ignition and,
j) incendive sparking.
Coal mine operators have a legal duty to prevent explosions but most generic industrial standards are focussed on Group II (non mining) environments.
This paper will examine the control measures that are employed by mine operators to prevent
dangerous accumulations of explosive gases, the control of potential ignition sources and the methods of preventing a gas explosion propagating into a coal dust explosion.
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