OHS Code Explanation Guide

Published Date: July 01, 2009
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Part 36 Mining

Section 702 Escape ways

Subsection 702(1)

Good housekeeping is a recognized factor that contributes to reducing worker injuries. In the confines of an underground coal mine, housekeeping is even more critical since emergency evacuation could potentially occur in complete darkness. To maximize the potential for rapid worker evacuation or escape, all underground tunnel ways, shafts and related access facilities must be kept clear of all obstructions at all times. In particular, accumulations of ice must be routinely removed and all other obstructions addressed as appropriate.

Several requirements ensure that workers, in an emergency, can quickly determine the correct direction for escape. The first is signage to guide workers to each surface outlet. Both fluorescent/retroreflective and geometrically shaped signs are recommended so that workers can determine direction under conditions of limited visibility and lighting. The second is the provision of lifelines including directional indicators, which must be used. Lifeline continuity must be maintained in practical ways and special markers will indicate the direction of exit and the location of caches of reserve oxygen generating self rescuer units.

Subsection 702(2)

All emergency escape routes should be kept free of flowing water i.e. whether from ground water, surface water or leaking pipes, etc., especially stairways and ladders. This helps prevent slippery and icy conditions or even ice-blockages, all of which could complicate, restrict or impede efficient emergency egress from the mine. All water must be directed away from stairways to minimize slipping hazards, especially during worker evacuation.

Subsection 702(3)

Escape ways inclined at more than 30 degrees from the horizontal must be equipped with devices that enable and do not hinder rapid worker escape in case of emergency. Walkways, stairs and ladders are mandatory and must be routinely inspected to ensure that they are maintained in a state of good repair.

Any shaft or tunnel way designated as an emergency escape way must allow a worker to leave the mine safely and by definition must lead to a surface outlet.

Subsection 702(4)

To ensure that escape under emergency conditions can be done as efficiently as possible, this subsection defines the minimum acceptable dimensions of an escape way. The 2 metre high and 2 metre wide dimensions allow a worker to move rapidly in an upright or semi-upright position when leaving the mine.