| Written by Geir Nerbø

Mining can be a hazardous environment to work in, particularly for lone workers. As an employer, it is your responsibility to take all steps necessary to ensure the safety of your lone workers in hazardous mining areas.

Lone worker regulations are raising awareness that companies need to provide workers with devices that can connect them to safety resources.

This article will offer a comprehensive guide to keeping lone workers safe in hazardous mining areas, covering topics such as necessary precautions, enforcing the use of personal protective equipment (PPE), providing regular training and supervision, and assessing the risk of any given mining situation.


Lone Worker's safety

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Imagine, it is Thursday afternoon and you send a person out to perform a routine check in a hazardous area. The person checks his PPE, prepares his tools and walks to the specific area.

On site, his personal gas monitor alerts him to high levels of dangerous gases. He should call for backup, but it could be another hour before an assistance can get to the location. He knows this situation, it has happened before, so he thinks he can manage to do the routine check quickly and get out there in a few minutes. He mutes the alarm on his monitor entering the area, starts his routine checks and is overcome by the gases.

When you haven’t heard from the contractor the next day, you ask around the closest colleagues. Nobody has seen him. You remember he was headed out to one of your hazardous areas the last time you saw him. You send someone to look for him – but by then, it’s too late.

Situations like this are the devastating reality for too many lone workers. Lone workers like contractors and oil and gas workers and many more face the same hazards, but they can’t rely on a coworker or a passerby to help them in an emergency.

Let's check what can be done.


Lone worker safety: Assessing the risk

Assessing the risk is key to ensuring lone worker safety in hazardous mining areas. It is important to establish a safety inspection protocol and ensure that all inspections are conducted according to the procedure. Every worksite should be inspected regularly to identify any hazardous conditions that may present a risk to lone workers. It is also essential to ensure that accurate records are kept of all inspections and any necessary corrective action is taken. Checks should include evaluations of the working environment and any safety equipment used. By creating a safe working environment and conducting regular assessments, employers can help to keep lone workers safe and secure.


Identify the Hazards

Understanding the specific risks associated with mining operations is a key part of maintaining a safe working environment for lone workers. Many potential hazards can be present in mining areas, such as uneven or wet surfaces, hazardous chemicals, falling debris, and extreme temperatures. Therefore, it is important that employers analyze the potential risks and develop strategies to mitigate those risks before workers enter the mine. Additionally, employers should give lone workers safety training that identifies potential hazards and stresses the importance of following safety protocols. By taking the time to correctly identify the risks, employers can ensure that their lone workers have the tools to stay safe and make informed decisions.


Evaluate Potential Risks

When determining appropriate safety protocol for lone workers in hazardous mining areas, it is vital to assess the potential risks. Not all hazards may be immediately visible, so it is essential to evaluate both accessible and potential risks that one may face in the workplace. Common hazards include exposure to loud noises, dust, gases and toxic materials. Other factors to consider include darkness, slippery surfaces, falling objects, or exposure to hazardous equipment. It is also vital to consider extreme weather conditions when determining lone worker safety protocols. By assessing the potential safety risks, the appropriate safety protocol can be chosen and implemented for lone workers in hazardous mining areas.


Operational Practices

The safety of lone workers in hazardous mining areas is of paramount importance. Therefore, operational practices must be in place to ensure their safety. Implementing good operational practices can make a huge difference when protecting lone workers in hazardous mining areas.

First, employers should establish clear policies and protocols regarding lone worker safety. This includes defining when lone workers can and should not be used and the conditions under which they can operate. The employer should also provide clear guidelines on how to conduct a risk assessment before employees are sent to an area; this should include an evaluation of the hazards as well as the safety measures that should be implemented.

Furthermore, employers should ensure that their lone workers are adequately trained and informed on safety protocols. This should include both on-the-job safety training and emergency protocols in case of any incidents. Employers should also provide the necessary personal protective equipment to lone workers, ensuring they are properly suited for their working environment.

Additionally, employers should regularly monitor and review their lone worker safety practices. This includes routinely training and informing lone workers of potential risks and hazards in their working environment, as well as conducting audits and safety inspections by external safety authorities. This helps to ensure that lone worker safety is up to standard and that any necessary corrective actions are taken. Moreover, employers should consider implementing an alert system to facilitate communication between employers and lone workers, allowing them to contact each other in an emergency immediately.

Finally, employers should ensure that all their workers are provided with devices that connect them to safety control room and tracks them on site in real-time.

By establishing and implementing the right operational practices, employers can ensure that lone workers in hazardous mining areas are well protected from any risks or hazards. When it comes to lone worker safety, employers must take the necessary steps to ensure their workers are safe and secure.


Enforcing Appropriate PPE and Training Programs

Enforcing Appropriate PPE and Training Programs are essential to ensure lone worker safety in hazardous mining areas. All personnel must be outfitted with the appropriate safety equipment, such as helmets, goggles, reflective clothing, flame-resistant uniforms, and steel-toed boots, as well as additional items depending on their specific job responsibilities. In addition, all personnel must participate in effective training programs that provide instruction on the proper use and maintenance of the necessary safety equipment and how to recognize potential hazards. Training also should stress the importance of proper communication to ensure that workers are aware of hazardous conditions that may arise during the day. With such safety measures, a company can ensure its lone workers are safe in hazardous mining areas.


Providing Regular Training and Supervision

Companies should ensure that their lone workers receive comprehensive training and supervision. Training should always include instruction on safety protocols, proper use of equipment, and emergency procedures. Supervision should include ongoing monitoring of the lone worker's activities in the office and on-site. Companies should also have an emergency notification system so that lone workers can be quickly contacted in the event of an emergency. Finally, companies should have a robust follow-up program in place that ensures that lone workers understand any training and safety materials they have been given. By providing regular training and supervision, companies can help ensure that their lone worker safety program is effective and that their employees stay safe in hazardous mining areas.


Lone worker safety: Monitoring personnel

In some parts of the world, lone worker regulations are raising awareness that companies need to provide workers with devices that can connect them to safety resources.

Today, there are several opportunities for connectivity of lone workers. Some things you should be looking for in a lone worker device to ensure your workers maximum safety when monitoring miners:

Integrated Solution – Many lone worker devices on the market today are one-trick ponies. They can provide GPS tracking or a panic button or a man down alert or gas detection with live monitoring.

Automatic Failover Connectivity – Lone workers are often dispatched to remote areas with little to no cellular coverage. If your lone worker solution relies on cell connectivity, your worker will be without a lifeline at some point. That means the mobile worker is truly alone, and safety personnel have no visibility into what hazards they face or where they’re located. If something such as an H2S alarm with no response were to happen, safety personnel would not know to send help. Your lone worker device must have automatic failover connectivity through another method.

Live Monitoring and Alerts – You constantly need monitoring to show you where a worker is located at any given moment, but you should also expect real-time alerts. Nobody has time to constantly monitor a map of worker locations, so you should find a lone worker solution that offers instant alerts to grab your attention. Those alerts should include the worker’s name and location and minutes within the area for the alert – whether it’s a man-down alarm, panic situation, or exposure to a gas hazard - protecting miners effectively. Learn more about typical scenarios to use miner tracking solutions.

Infrastructure to Connect Devices – Most lone worker devices relay live data through a gateway back to safety personnel on site. Unfortunately, some of these gateways need extra infrastructure for every few monitors. With today’s technology, you should be able to connect devices with one gateway, which could lead to thousands of dollars in cost savings.

Automatic Connectivity – Being a lone worker is hard, so don’t add the burden of troubleshooting connectivity issues. The best lone worker monitoring systems automatically connect devices in the field to cloud monitoring systems as soon as they’re powered on – no questions asked.

No Maintenance – Look for a lone worker solution with a no maintenance gateway – one that can run from a power supply like a vehicle that won’t require charging or cables.

With miner tracking' Crew Companion we register when the worker enters/exits a specific zone. If the tag is not detected in a selected exit zone within a given time an alert will be raised to the control room and necessary actions can be taken.

Looking out for the safety and well-being of your workers is a huge responsibility, but it’s one you don’t have to shoulder alone. Lone worker devices can help you avoid situations like the one presented here, so you never have to live with the regret of, “If only I had known he needed me.”

If you choose your solution carefully, you can be sure knowing you have complete visibility into what your workers are experiencing, even when they’re miles away.



- What is lone worker monitoring?

Lone worker monitoring is the use of technology to track and monitor the safety of workers who are working on their own or in isolated locations. 

- Why is it important?
Lone worker monitoring is important because it can help businesses ensure the safety and wellbeing of their employees, as well as increase response times in the event of an emergency. 

- What technologies are used for lone worker monitoring?
Common technologies used for lone worker monitoring include RFID (indoors and outdoors), GPS tracking (outdoors with clear sky-view), two-way radios, panic buttons, and other types of safety alert systems.

- What are some best practices for lone worker monitoring?
Best practices for lone worker monitoring include providing employees with appropriate tracking devices, regular check-ins with employees, and setting up an emergency response system. 

- How can I get started with lone worker monitoring?
Individuals can get started with lone worker monitoring by contacting our technical staff for more information about available technologies and use cases.



Keeping lone workers safe in hazardous mining areas is a complex and challenging process. Operational practices, training programs, supervision and regular inspections are all essential components in ensuring the health and safety of miners. Moreover, risk assessment is crucial in identifying and evaluating potential hazards as well as measures for mitigating them. If you enabling monitoring lone workers, you have a real time update of their situation. By implementing these practices, mines can provide a safe environment for lone workers and ensure their continued safety in hazardous areas.


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