Protecting the heads of miners

Siobhan Doyle

Appropriate head protection is crucial when it comes to the safety of miners.

In 2010, 33 miners were trapped in a gold and copper mine in Chile for 69 days after the mine collapsed. The Chilean miner rescue, which made international news, reminds us of the dangers of working in mines – using the correct equipment in these conditions is of upmost importance and can save peoples’ lives in unpredictable situations.

Helmets from MSA Safety’s V-Gard range are credited for protecting the Chilean miners’ heads until emergency teams rescued them. Each of the helmets within the V-Gard family have been designed to provide the most effective protection in every industrial application, even the harshest of environments such as those found in mines.

Depending on the conditions in a particular mine, the basic HDPE V-Gard helmet, or a more advanced ABS solution such as the V-Gard 200/500/520, can be selected. HDPE provides good impact protection while ABS offers greater resistance to shocks, scratches and lateral protection. Different helmet types have slightly different shapes: they can be adjusted to suit the needs and preferences of different users, such as the angle of the lamp beam which is dependent on the shape of the helmet front.

Miners who work in cold conditions still receive the proper level of protection because all MSA helmets have been certified for use even when temperatures fall below -30°C. In addition, any non-vented V-Gard helmet prevents the wearer being electrocuted should their head come into contact with electrical wires.

The wide range of accessories available extends the functionality of the helmets beyond simply offering head protection, giving significant flexibility while selecting a complex solution for particular needs. Miners are offered two types of front lamp brackets, plastic and metal, and are equipped with a rear cable loop. Use of the plastic lamp bracket retains the electrical insulation properties of the helmet and will be preferred in coal mines while the metal bracket will be preferred in metal ore mines.

Meanwhile, in mines with explosive atmospheres, it is crucial that helmets meet ATEX requirements. All MSA V-Gard helmets prevent electrostatic charge, making them suitable for use in ATEX environments: they have been tested in accordance with the European standard for non-electrical equipment for use in hazardous areas.

Workers operating in conditions where there is a high risk of eye injury will benefit from MSA’s stowable visor which can be attached to V-Gard and V-Gard 200 helmets. Alternatively, closely fitting goggles with a comfort fit band ensure complete eye protection from dust and flying debris. More demanding applications require the use of a visor which covers the entire face. A wide range of MSA visors can be attached to all V-Gard helmets.

Miners do not just face risks which may result in an immediate physical injury – they also need to be protected from noise, which can reduce their hearing ability and even lead to complete deafness. To tackle this, MSA has designed several types of earmuffs to enhance protection.

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