OHS Code Explanation Guide

Published Date: July 01, 2009
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Part 36 Mining

Section 569 Switchgear

Subsection 569(1)

The ability to switch off the supply of electricity to an underground mine is important. In case of an electrical fire, power must be turned off if having the power on creates additional hazards.

Similarly, if an explosion damages electrical circuits and leaves parts of the system live, it may be necessary to isolate the damaged parts before they can be repaired.

At an underground mine, an authorized worker must be available to operate the switchgear whenever the circuits are energized. The availability of such an authorized worker could be essential to a rapid response in case of an underground emergency. It is simply not acceptable that underground workers be placed at additional risk while waiting for an authorized person to be “called-out” to the scene of an emergency.

Subsection 569(2)

Locating switchgear near a working face allows workers to operate and isolate electrical equipment and related circuits as needed. Switchgear can be hazardous if it is exposed to accumulations of flammable gas or if it catches fire. For these reasons it must not be located any closer to a working face than the last ventilated cross-cut. This minimizes the potential for exposure to flammable gases generated at the working face. If the switchgear itself catches fire, the last ventilated cross-cut location will ensure that toxic smoke and gases will not flow into the working face where workers may be endangered.