Monitoring self-contained self-rescuers
The CSIR Self-contained Self-rescuer Testing Laboratory is the only accredited testing authority in South Africa that monitors self-contained self-rescuers. These devices supply mine workers with oxygen during emergencies such as fires or explosions underground, enabling mineworkers to escape from an irrespirable atmosphere.
Belt-worn self-contained self-rescuers were deployed into the South African mining industry after the Kinross, Ermelo and Middelburg tragedies of 1986, 1987 and 1993 respectively, during which 264 employees lost their lives in the aftermath of an underground fires. In 2015, a total of more than 200 000 of these devices were deployed in the South African mining industry.
To ensure that the devices deployed underground are in good working order, they need to be monitored to detect any unacceptable deterioration in their functional performance.
The monitoring programme in its current format was established in 1996, directed by the Chief Inspector of Mines, and is controlled by a tripartite technical committee consisting of representatives of government, unions and the mining industry. More than 180 mines and shafts are taking part in this monitoring programme and in excess of 2 000 self-contained self-rescuers are being tested annually.
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