Mining is a famously dangerous and risky job. With the risk of mines collapsing, ventilation systems breaking down and the dangers of a fire breaking out in such contained space, they make for a scary occupation. Yet there could be a way to make mines safer using LEDs. After the Chilean mining disaster in 2010 the worlds attention was drawn to the risks these workers take everyday. After 33 miners were trapped in the South American mine 700 meters underground, it called the world to ask what could make the mines a safer and better environment for these workers.

The answer? LED’s! Mining companies are now using LEDs to make working environments safer. Lighting supplier Azolite are supplying mines with Flame proof LED lights. Previously fluorescent lights had been used in the mines, but they are not practical for their job. The fluorescents are sensitive gas tubes made of glass. So transporting and installing them in narrow deep mines is difficult as great care has to be taken not the break them leaving glass littering the mines, a dangerous hazard for the mine workers. Also due to the gas contained in the fluorescent lamps, specific procedures and care have to be taken when disposing of them adding more complicated work for the mine workers.

Thought was given to the creation of the new lighting for mines. They need to be practical, functional and safe to use in the mining conditions. The LEDs plastic housing makes it safer than the glass tube as it is stronger so wont break if knocked or flung around. They are practical as the LEDs long life span means workers wont have to take time out of their mining to change bulbs. Changing bulbs can cause massive disruption to the workers as setting up ladders and equipment takes up time and space limiting the work in the area of the maintenance work. The LEDs will over all cut costs dramatically in any mining plant due to their lower power consumption, which also aids to cut the company’s carbon footprint.

LED’s are undoubtedly improving working conditions for miners but you can’t help but think, perhaps if the miners of Copiapó mine had been using LED lighting their ordeal may have been easier and over quicker. The reliability of the LEDs mean it’s more than likely the LED lighting would have survived the mine cave in. The strong light from the LEDs may have helped rescuers find them quicker. Also having consistent light may have kept the miners from having any eye problems they developed from being trapped in the darkness for 69 days. 

All this shows that LEDs have many uses. They could save lives and improve the functionality of mines with safer and reliable lighting. Not only will the companies save money on their electricity and maintenance bills, but also workers will require less time off from injuries caused by faulty and broken fluorescents. Another way LEDs are improving lives and working conditions.

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