With the rapid changes in new technology and the constant quest for greater return on investment, programmable electronic systems (PES) have progressively been implemented in all industries.
The mining industry is no exception to this trend, and over time, virtually all Quebec mines have equipped their hoists with programmable electronic systems. However, the introduction of these new technologies, which is necessary to boost mining productivity in Quebec, must go hand in hand with corresponding adjustments in occupational health and safety.
A new data sheet, RF-1049, published by the IRSST, sets out the current state of the art regarding PES reliability and PES use to control hoists. The document is intended for PES-controlled hoist users, owners and designers. It reviews information on the system safety objectives to be targeted for PES-controlled hoists. It in no way exempts designers or users from the obligation to comply with all legal and regulatory requirements related to their operations.
The main goal of this research project was to update a previous data sheet, published under the name RF-421, and thereby ensure greater safety for workers who have to use the cages of mine hoists controlled by PESs. The researchers reviewed the changes in, and feedback on, control system safety and reliability standards, as well as changes in mining practices, including the automation of hoists and the obsolescence of some of the equipment still being used (Lilly, PES, electromechanical relays, etc.).
The research update also helped to eliminate grey areas that allowed room for the interpretation of certain recommendations, and lastly provided an opportunity to include in this appendix report the results of a formal risk analysis for adjusting risk control measures.