Efficient Diesel Management Committees will accelerate your DPM mitigation strategy
This opinion piece will highlight the importance of Diesel Management Committees (DMC) in being the catalyst to introduce, test and review any DPM mitigating technologies or mitigating practices. Based on information from various whitepapers written over the last 10 years, this piece will explore and summarize what is required to make a successful DMC.
Throughout the years it has often be advocated that the use of an integrated approach to reduce DPM levels is not the task of a selected few but rather an all of mine approach (Schnakenberg et al 2006, Mischler et al 2009). Importantly, Mischler reinforces that without a management supported ‘DPM champion’ any DPM mitigation will lose the required impetus to succeed. Often it will be up to the champion to inspire each department to research the latest DPM mitigation technologies prior to presenting their options to the DPM committee for collaborative selection.
The DPM mitigation within the diesel management system requires inputs from various departments, such as engine maintenance, ventilation, OH&S as well as senior management. Broadly the mitigation of DPM can divided into engineering controls and administrative controls (Bugarski et al 2012). Transitioning to these mitigating controls can be expensive and requires a systematic approach.
Commonly, mine site strategies require each department to investigate new methods that may reduce DPM. However, it is generally recognised that engineering solutions can be expensive and may not always perform as claimed by the OEM’s. Additionally, the technologies need to be tested in the harsh underground mine environment during production. The conventional Denning’s Wheel, PDCA is the preferred method to trial new technologies. An important part of this process requires continuous monitoring of the equipment as well as the environment to ascertain the success or otherwise of the new technology i.e., benchmarking before, during and after scenarios.
An important role of the committee is to review the technology holistically (Schnakenberg 2006). To do so there is a need for a wide range of skills that no one person only can be expected to have. The committee through the representations of the relevant departments (fleet management, ventilation, OH&S, and production) may however require from time to time a further expert view to make sure that the analysis of technology is relevant to the problem. The role of the ‘Champion’ remains intrinsic throughout this process as this person will be responsible to make sure that each department participates fully throughout the testing period.
The role of senior management in the committee is threefold. Firstly, management rely on the committee to provide solutions to mitigate DPM at all times, which enables Management to comply to their legislative requirement of “As low as reasonably practicable” (ALARP). Secondly, Management can understand and approve the financial resources required. Finally permanent presence of senior management will indicate to the workforce that management is taking this health risk seriously and is keeping up with the latest technologies to reduce the DPM exposures.
When it comes to DPM mitigation there are no silver bullets. This further highlights the importance of a wide range of participation on the DPM committee. However, the frequent change of personnel in the industry can complicate the efficiency of the DPM committee. Therefore, with representation of each department there will be a better chance of continuity within the committee. NIOSH acknowledged in their 2006 white paper that the implementation of DPM mitigating technology can be complicated. They further reported that this can be overcome by making sure that the people with the relevant skills and knowledge are represented on the committee. One of the roles of the committee is to learn how to properly identify the issue and set clear goals as how to resolve the issues. It was highlighted that where possible there needed to be an understanding of the size of the problem. Relevant in-mine data from the DPM monitoring system is needed to be collected at all times so as to identify how the implementation of the mitigating technology contributed toward the overall air quality within the mine.
Bugarski et al (2012) recommends that the committee sets two types of goals. Short term goals to keep the enthusiasm going and often very cost effective and long-term goals that require extensive evaluation and a cost benefit analysis. Bugarski et al (2012) identified the need to establish a hierarchy of controls that could serve as the roadmap to success of the DPM mitigation strategy. In their publication they identified that no two mines are equal and therefore the strategy required would have to be mine specific and that a DMC would be ideally placed to identify the right strategy for the mine. However, they alerted that regular failure will be common but that they are part of the overall plan. It is important that each trial of technology is properly recorded so that future endeavours don’t waste valuable resources or identify new technologies that can overcome the past failures.
Bugarski, Aleksander D. (2012), Controlling exposure to diesel emissions in underground mines/by Aleksander D. Bugarski, Samuel J. Janisko, Emanuele G. Cauda, James D. Noll, and Steven E. Mischler, ed. Society for Mining, Metallurgy, and Exploration, Inc.
Mischler, Steven E., Colinet, Jay, F. (2009), Controlling and monitoring diesel emissions in underground mines in the United States, Mine Ventilation Proceedings of the Ninth International Mine Ventilation Congress, New Dehli, India, ed. Oxford and IBH Publishing Co Pty Ltd 2009, 2:879-888.
Schnakenberg, Jr., G.H. (2006), An integrated approach for managing diesel emissions controls for underground metal mines, 11th North American Min Ventilation Symposium, ed. Mutmansky and Ramani, pp 121-125.