Getting value from Digital in Mining: Safety

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Getting value from Digital in Mining: Safety

Around the world, we see lots of hype and interest in applying digital technology to mining operations. We work with many clients to help them identify opportunities to extract value from new technology. Based on what we’re hearing and seeing, we have identified a few key areas where technology can change the game in the short term.


Any mine today can take advantage of a significant opportunity to use technology for improved safety. There are genuine difference making technologies available in several categories:

  • Fatigue management and sleep monitoring solutions that ensure crew members are fit for work at the start of a shift and can manage their state of wakefulness while operating equipment
  • Use of locator technology either through wearable RFID or helmet based locators that enable absolute visibility of everyone’s well-being in the mine (a real change for underground operations)
  • Proximity sensors for people and equipment that ensure collisions happen much less often
  • Fall detection that immediately alerts the team when a crew member is in a possible life-threatening situation

In most cases, the technology is relatively straightforward and can definitely improve incident detection and prevention. The big challenge, as is the norm with frontline technology, is managing the introduction the right way.

As everyone in mining knows, Safety is a critical concern, but because of the way the human brain works, it is extremely difficult to maintain safety discipline without real management. (And it’s not just mining. Nobody likes to follow rules that are not taken seriously. Here’s an example from cybersecurity, which is equally difficult to get employees to follow.)

Safety is clearly in the best interest of the worker, but without the right reinforcement, starting with Visible Leadership, the worker will prioritise something else. Being clear about the rules, enforcing the rules, and showing Management is aligned all the way down to the front line is a great way to start.

It’s also clear that there is a need to manage away from concerns of “big brother” and loss of privacy—if you don’t make it clear that these new technologies are being rolled out because we are uncompromising about safety, then employees will create their own reasons why you’re deploying the technology. Don’t make them fill in the blanks themselves.

Want to learn more about extracting value from new technology in mining? Read the full blog: