IRSST - Institut de recherche Robert-Sauvé en santé et en sécurité du travail

Safety of Extraction Machinery Controlled by Electronic Programmable Systems ─ Technical Fact Sheet


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 extraction machinery with systems of this kind. However, the introduction of these new technologies, which is required to boost mining productivity in Quebec, must go hand in hand with corresponding adjustments in occupational health and safety.

A survey of extraction machinery being used in Quebec in 2016 showed that the overall profile of the industry has changed considerably since the first version of the technical fact sheet, RF‑412, was published in 2005: the vast majority of extraction machines are controlled and monitored by PESs, and close to a third of machines have been in operation for less than 10 years. At the same time, many older extraction machines have had their control systems updated. In light of these observations and of incidents that have occurred in recent years, it seemed a new version of technical fact sheet RF‑412 was needed—one that would reflect both the current situation in Quebec (significant differences between the newest and oldest machines) as well as prevailing industry trends (higher loads and extraction speeds, increasingly automated systems).

The new technical fact sheet was developed in conjunction with extraction machinery experts and machine safety specialists. Although a large part of the content has been taken from technical fact sheet RF‑412, this update provided an opportunity to review its structure and organization so that, as far as possible, the information could be presented and arranged in the same way as in international standards. A further underlying objective of this new fact sheet was to reconcile the current state of extraction machinery now being used with the continuing trend toward greater automation and the integration of modern practices respecting the robustness (or reliability) of the control systems of future extraction machines.

This new technical fact sheet sets out the current state of the art regarding PES reliability and PES use to control extraction machinery, whereas the appended report describes the process and thinking that led to its drafting. The fact sheet is intended for PES-controlled extraction machinery users, owners and designers. It reviews information on the system safety objectives to be targeted for PES-controlled extraction machines. It in no way exempts designers or users from the obligation to comply with all legal and regulatory requirements related to their activities.