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Self-contained rescuer catches fire underground

In what can only be described as ironic, concerns have been raised over the safety of self-contained rescuers after one such device combusted at a Hunter Valley underground coal mine.

NSW Mine Safety issued a Safety Alert on Monday after a self-rescuer flew from the rear of a roadheader track and caught fire on impact with the ground.

An operator had lost the device earlier in the day and had reported the loss to supervisors.

NSW Mine Safety reported an investigation conducted by the US Department of the Interior Bureau of Mines (RI 9333) confirms that these units can be subject to “combustion reactions” when placed in extreme destructive forces such as those applied by a rotating track pad.

NSW Mine Safety recommends; “The possibility of this event occurring should be communicated to all people required to wear such a device during their duties. Operations should review the adequacy of their arrangements for finding self-contained rescuers if lost, with the potential for such an end result as occurred in this case, to be considered. Operations should review the adequacy of the arrangements in place for the secure retention of self-contained rescuers being belt-worn by people.

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AMSJ April 2022