The Importance of Safe and Responsible Practices in Mine and Deep Trench Management

13 December 2019

Few places on the planet Earth mandate the incorporation of a higher degree of safety-centric codes than a mine or deep trench. Unlike conventional trenches, which at least provide some access to above-ground conditions, the constructs described here are fully submerged. Indeed, the ceiling of a subterranean mine is as dark and soil-dank as its flooring. If water and air are to be safely delivered to a deep trench site, then the lines created as their delivery systems must be reliably installed and maintained.

Regulating Safe Deep Trench Management Infrastructures

Pipes and hoses can’t just be run any old way when an artificial atmosphere is being established in a subterranean work environment. Take a look at road and railway tunnels to see that principle being played out in real-time. Loaded with vents, water pipes, drainage systems and more, even a short transportation system tunnel needs all sorts of safety features. Some are structurally focused, while others are designed to either deliver or extract certain fluid mediums. In deep trenches, it’s mostly the same, although the tubes covered here function as life-sustaining umbilical lines, not just as backup safety features.

Detailing the Safe Practice Regulations

Every state in Australia has its own safe practices guidelines, with codes describing the bare minimums required to create a safe environment in confined spaces. There are FRAS (Fire Retardant Anti-Static) regulations, which prevent anti-static build-ups in gas-filled mining facilities. Bitumen-rich atmospheres and methane pockets are a danger down here, after all. In deep trench drainage and sewage pipe runs, the WSA 02-2002 Sewerage codes apply. These regulation ensure compliance with water agency requirements and deep trench embedment practices. Therefore, not only are soil backfill codes addressed by trench-savvy plumbing professionals but so are the rules and standards that ensure a properly laid concrete foundation. From tunnel supports to trench buttressing and everything in-between, the codes protect workers while they go about their duties, then protect pipes and fittings so that they enjoy an extended lifespan.

This is a dangerous setting. In small trenches, if an excavator causes a sidewall collapse, then a few hours of labour are lost. In deep trenches and mines, the situation is entirely, life-threateningly different. Piped potable water must be kept clean and filtered so that communities can drink and bathe to their heart’s content. For mine personnel, the situation is even direr. Drainage systems cannot fail down here, and deep trench ventilation ducts must remain clear at all times. It’s the same with a low-lying sewerage line, which mandates the use of a breathing mask or respirator mask. In short, the life of a plumber is hard enough to manage above ground. Below ground, that worker’s life needs to be protected, safeguarded by a series of tried-and-trusted safe practice standards and management programs.

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