Chemical Oxygen Self-rescuers Training
Underground miners have suffered, throughout history, several issues where a lack of oxygen and the presence of toxic gases or particles have created risky situations, too many of them with fatal outcome. As a result, the access to these sites requires miners to use a personal protective equipment known as chemical oxygen self-rescuer which lets them breathe just in case of a risky situation.
The equipment is held during the shift and it will provide oxygen in a closed circuit for a limited period of time in case of an emergency. The oxygen is created because of several chemical exothermic reactions of the products of workers´ breathing and the potassium superoxide (KO2). Heat and humidity created in these reactions produce that workers feel a discomfort during the breathing.
The inspection of several mining accidents over the last century, let know that the ignorance and the lack of training in their use were the reasons for refusing them when the miners were involved in an emergency, leaving the self-rescuer with mortal outcomes. Because of this reason, the National Institute for Silicosis developed, in 2001, a project for designing a training session with it. The initial requirements for the enterprise were to avoid the use of new equipment every training session, because of their high cost, and to feel the discomfort and difficulties generated when miners use real equipment.
According to these requirements a chemical oxygen self-rescuer simulator was designed to let workers to experience the same feelings created by the use of the real equipment (mainly high temperatures and humidity of the oxygen, and also resistance and discomfort). This simulator was shown at the 30th International Conference of Safety in Mines Research Institute, hold in Johannesburgo 2003, and has been used for training over the last years in Spanish mines.
The National Institute for Silicosis, using the simulator as the key element, built a training activity for the operation with self-rescuers according to these contents:
Technical introduction to oxygen self-rescuers use.
Experience of feelings using an oxygen self-rescuer (simulator).
Operation with oxygen self-rescuer in emergencies.
Practical training in communications and evacuations of an emergency.
This training activity may be useful not only for miners, but also for any worker who carries out works in sites with risk of oxygen-deficient or irrespirable atmospheres where oxygen self-rescuers must be used .