Sep 21, 2012
Mining sector needs more alcohol educationBack
Engineering|Rustenburg|SECURITY|Africa|Alcohol Breathalysers GM|Anglo American Platinum|De Beers|Education|Platinum|Safety|Security|System|Africa|South Africa|Security|Alcohol Testing Equipment Supplier|Equipment|Fuel Cell Sensor Technology|Machinery|Mining|Security|Work Site|Angus MacArthur|Security|Electrochemical Fuel Cell Sensor Technology|Fuel Cell Sensor Technology|Fuel Cell Technology
© Reuse this
He states that many mining companies experience difficulties, particularly on Monday mornings, with workers who consumed large amounts of alcohol over the weekend.
“Depending on the amount of alcohol consumed, many workers are not aware of the amount of liquor that is still in their system from the night before. This needs to be dealt with through visible awareness and education about alcohol testing,” says MacArthur.
A high level of alcohol in the body affects vision, reaction speed and coordination. Workers will be unable to operate machinery or drive vehicles, as they would be a hazard to themselves and their fellow workers.
MacArthur notes that the average human body can only process one unit of alcohol an hour and workers who consume more pose a safety risk at the workplace.
The automated EBS helps enforce zero tolerance of alcohol at the workplace and does not require any human operation.
MacArthur says this is an advantage, as there is no room for human error or accusations of victimisation or discrimination. All workers are tested through the EBS.
Companies will also save on costs, as there will be no need for security personnel to conduct the tests.
MacArthur suggests that the breathalysers be connected to turnstiles at the entrance of workplaces.
He emphasises that the EBS is not a tool for the dismissal of workers, but rather a tool to ensure compliance with health and safety regulations.
The EBS allows companies to adhere to the Occupational Health and Safety Act, which states that “an employer or user, as the case may be, shall not permit any person who is or who appears to be under the influence of intoxicating liquor or drugs, to enter, or remain at, a workplace”.
Workers are requested to identify themselves at the workplace with a fingerprint, palm print or retina scan, depending on which time keeping system is in place. They then blow into the EBS and wait for the result. A pass allows the turnstile to open and a fail prevents access and registers on the system.
MacArthur says workers who fail the test are given a second opportunity to test with a handheld machine or a machine with a printer. Should the worker fail the second test, the employer will initiate the necessary disciplinary procedures.
The EBS is used by diamond producer De Beers and diversified miner Anglo American Platinum’s Rustenburg base metals refinery (RBMR).
MacArthur reveals that, after almost two years of using the EBS, the alcohol test failure rates at sites are almost zero.
Trials at De Beers were concluded in late 2010 and the company is currently using the latest version of the EBS.
Further, he says the EBS has managed to cope with more than double the tests originally expected.
“We thought the machine could handle 5 000 tests in one calibration cycle, but we have seen that they can handle up to 12 000 tests. “The machine still produced accurate results, even after its accuracy was checked after 12 000 tests. “This is a great achievement in terms of the success of the implementation of the device,” he enthuses.
MacArthur says the cost and technical requirements to manufacture the machines locally are substantial and he believes there is no established industry in South Africa for the production of the fuel cell technology that is used to make the machine.
The electrochemical fuel cell sensor technology is preferred by many companies, as it checks only for ethanol. In comparison, semiconductor alcohol sensors may detect substances such as cigarette smoke, menthol, sugar and mouth alcohol.
The electrochemical fuel cell sensors in the EBS have longer calibration cycles and do not produce false positive results.
MacArthur notes that installations come with challenges, for example, condensation had begun to form in a number of EBS machines during winter, as a result of the moist human breath and bitterly cold air at RBMR. To combat the challenge, extraction fans were added to the bases of the units to extract the exhaled breath, eliminating the condensation.
Alcohol Breathalysers plans to release a weatherproof version of the EBS, with a plastic casing to protect it from harsh weather conditions.
Further, the company notes that hundreds of engineering companies in South Africa are making use of hand-held alcohol breathalysers, owing to the smaller number of staff on site, compared with the number of employees on mines.
Edited by: Chanel de Bruyn© Reuse this Comment Guidelines (150 word limit)
Other Health and Safety News
Modderfontein-based Apex Strip Curtains & Doors has announced that all its products earmarked for use in the food and beverage industry are now compliant with the latest international food safety system.
Construction industry representative association Master Builders Association (MBA) North launched the September for Safety road safety campaign this month to promote the safe use of vehicles regarding construction procedures when transporting either personnel or...
Johannesburg-based occupational health, safety and environmental (HSE) risk-management company NOSA has recently launched an HSE e-learning course that focuses on the mining industry, namely SAMTRAC for Mining, which complements the general industry course launched...
Recent Research Reports
Defence 2014: A review of South Africa's defence industry (PDF Report)
Creamer Media’s Defence 2014 report examines South Africa’s defence industry, with particular focus on the key participants in the sector, the innovations that have come out of the sector, local and export demand, South Africa’s controversial multibillion-rand...
Road and Rail 2014: A review of South Africa's road and rail infrastructure (PDF report)
Creamer Media’s Road and Rail 2014 report examines South Africa’s road and rail transport system, with particular focus on the size and state of the country’s road and rail network, the funding and maintenance of these respective networks, and the push to move road...
Real Economy Year Book 2014 (PDF Report)
This edition drills down into the performance and outlook for a variety of sectors, including automotive, construction, electricity, transport, steel, water, coal, gold, iron-ore and platinum.
Real Economy Insight: Automotive 2014 (PDF Report)
This four-page brief covers key developments in the automotive industry over the past 12 months, including an overview of South Africa’s automotive market, trade figures, production and the policies influencing the sector.
Real Economy Insight: Construction 2014 (PDF Report)
This five-page brief covers key developments in the construction industry over the past 12 months. It provides an overview of the sector and includes details of employment in the sector, infrastructure and municipal spending, as well as insight into companies’...
Real Economy Insight: Electricity 2014 (PDF Report)
This five-page brief covers key developments in the electricity industry over the past 12 months, including details of State-owned power utility Eskom’s generation activities, funding and tariffs, independent power producers and prospects for the sector.
This Week's Magazine
In the next 20 years, it was expected that, in Africa, more people would live in cities and towns than in rural areas, United Nations Habitat executive director Dr Aisa Kirabo Kacyira said at the Human Settlements Indaba that took place earlier this month in...
Tough-talking Human Settlements Minister Lindiwe Sisulu has committed government to building 1.5-million low-cost houses over the next five years, telling the Human Settlements Indaba in Johannesburg on Wednesday that the State would achieve this target through the...
Over the past 20 years there has been persistent concern about deindustrialisation in South Africa, as well as the fact that locally produced manufactured products have been increasingly displaced by imports.
Financial agreement for Ghanian independent power producer (IPP) Cenpower Generation Company’s $900-million, 350 MW combined-cycle gas-turbine power plant was finalised earlier this month, paving the way for the project’s construction to begin before 2015 in Tema,...
The revenue implications for South Africa of ‘base erosion and profit shifting’ by corporate taxpayers are firmly in the crosshairs of the Davis Tax Committee (DTC) and Judge Dennis Davis hinted last week that recommendations were being considered to “detect and...