Are you aware of the hidden risks of poor servicing?
There are many common misconceptions about refuge chamber servicing, which we have briefly addressed below. But, just like a car, refuge chambers become inefficient, unreliable and may even pose a safety hazard if not serviced regularly.
Servicing a chamber should not be an inconvenience, and there are several options available at MineARC, including scheduling and training, to suit your needs.
Why do refuge chambers need servicing, especially if they have not been used?
Servicing does more than check a chamber after use; it ensures the life-saving equipment within a refuge bay is in optimal working condition and ready to be used.
Regular servicing is an expense, but, the potential costs and damage of not maintaining your refuge chambers are far greater. Delaying or missing scheduled servicing will fail to identify defects. Consistent servicing prevents easily repairable issues becoming significant problems which can result in a refuge chamber being out of service for an extended period, impacting operations and profit.
More importantly, failure to properly maintain the life-sustaining mechanisms within the chamber means they are not guaranteed to work correctly when they need to be used most. Simply put, if you do not maintain the equipment you are putting the lives of workers at risk.
Can I get my technicians to service the chambers?
Yes, but for MineARC Chambers we require a service certification.
Why is that? Understanding the mechanisms within a refuge chamber is paramount. Without a thorough understanding, essential elements which can affect a chambers functionality and operation over time can be missed, and when needed most the chamber is ineffective.
You can have your sites technicians safely service a MineARC refuge chamber once they have completed our free, one-day Service School. This certification provides technicians with the knowledge base to effectively maintain a MineARC chamber for two-years before requiring a refresher.
The Department of Mines, Industry Regulation and Safety (DMIRS) also require a certified technician to perform the service and record their certification ID on the service sticker. This is also checked during inspections.
What is the difference in spare parts; can I use what is on site?
Every refuge chamber, regardless of manufacturer, should be maintained and equipped, in accordance with the Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM)’s requirements.
Manufacturers test each part to guarantee they meet the safety requirements of the chamber, its equipment, and government regulations – ensuring they are fit for purpose and perform collectively.
Developing an internal policy to use genuine OEM parts is a more effective way to mitigate the risk of poor performance or malfunction.
The DMP Equip and maintain refuge chambers in accordance with the OEM’s specifications.
Is there any government guidelines and protocols I should be aware of?
Without proper maintenance, the capacity for some refuge chambers to support life in an emergency may have been compromised. The DMIRS, a.k.a. Department of Mines and Petroleum has published a number of safety bulletins addressing expectations and requirements for refuge chambers.
Mines Safety Bulletin No. 141, 27 March 2017 – Maintenance of refuge chambers for underground mines
- Ensure repair, replacement or maintenance work is undertaken by a competent person(s)
- Every refuge chamber, regardless of manufacturer, should be maintained and equipped, in accordance with the OEM’s requirements.
- Apply a formal change management process to refuge chamber modifications, including the OEM’s review and authorisation prior to modifying the chamber.