he National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) has developed prototype light emitting diode (LED) mining cap lamps that could potentially reduce workers’ slips, trips and falls in underground mines.
Accident data from the Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) shows that slips, trips and falls are some of the most significant injuries in underground mines. With an average age of 43.3 years, miners are more sensitive to glare and don’t see as well because less light reaches the retina as people age.
Test results with LED lighting show significant improvements that directly affect mine worker safety, in particular when using a NIOSH-developed LED prototype cap lamp designed to improve visual performance.
The NIOSH prototype improved the ability of older subjects to detect moving hazards by 15 percent and trip hazards by nearly 24 percent. In addition, older workers experienced a 45 percent reduction in glare.
Because they have no glass envelope or a filament that can break, LEDs are robust. They also can provide useful light for up to 50,000 hours of operation, compared to as little as 1,000 hours for an incandescent bulb.
This substantially longer life for LEDs has a noteworthy impact on safety, says NIOSH, because there is far less potential for mining injuries directly associated with lamp failures, including those experienced by workers conducting maintenance or repairs on lights.
According to NIOSH, LED technology could revolutionize mine illumination.
NIOSH is exploring improvements to self-escape and rescue lighting in mines using LED technology, particularly in smoke-filled environments.