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Explosives Handling

Paper: Legal and Safety Aspects of Explosives Handling

Legal and Safety Aspects of Explosives Handling Ingo Valgma Abstract— Explosives are source of danger and at the same time economical solution for industry. For sustaining the sector, legal or technical actions are needed to take. Estonia could be good example of blasting conditions due to large amount of limestone, oil shale or phosphate rock been blasted. Legal steps include harmonising safety and environmental regulation among the industry. Several networks and systems have been initiated for this purpose. I. INTRODUCTION Blasting materials are sources of danger and providers of an indispensable instrument in the construction of modern society, such as in mines and quarries, in road and building construction as well as in the exploitation and extraction of oil [24][3]. Explosives are also found in such diverse fields as in pharmaceuticals, in air bags in the car, in rocket fuel and in armaments. Explosive substances can through their force and energy perform great works in a short time. For the same reasons they can also cause accidents with broad and often extremely serious consequences both for man and society. Rock blasting with explosives is the controlled use to excavate, break down or remove rock. Rock loosening and destruction by blasting is used in underground mining and quarries, due to the rational use of energy [10]. At the same time there are some negative impacts on environment such as flyrock, noise, gas, dust and ground vibration. [26][33][25] Due to a conscious investment in legislation, training and expertise in the explosives area ever since Alfred Nobel’s days, safety has gradually been increasing and serious incidents have been minimized. The former workplace based responsibility for internal training has at the same time become unclear and hard to bear for a global, streamlined industry, which in turn contributes to the difficulties in the replenishment of trained staff as they dwindle from below. The various players in the sector have, for some time, been incomplete agreement that it will require substantial industry- led, political impetus to succeed in maintaining the industry’s high level of competence, particularly with respect to environmental and safety issues, but also with respect to sustaining and develop a competitive explosive industry. [3] As a result the question arises about legal or technical actions needed to take for sustaining the sector. II. STUDY AREA In Estonia drilling and blasting is used in mining sector usually in limestone and dolostone quarries, oil shale open casts and underground mines (Fig. 2)[29][32][23]. In relation to the groundwater handling, subwater blasting in limestone quarries has become popular [34]. In different geological conditions, breaking the rock varies [22][21][28] to three different groups of rock: • Hard and monolithic stone, braking appears by the reflected pressure waves • Medium hard and faulted rock, breaking appears both by charge wave and reflected pressure waves; • Sedimentary rock, breaking appears by the expansion of the explosive gases by the kinetic energy. Fig. 1. Blasting craters. On the left in the hard rock and on the right in soft sedimentary rock [11]. The duration of burst momentum depends on the characteristics of the explosives and the length of the charge, geological and hydrogeological conditions and blasting method, etc. With changing these factors it is possible to vary the shape of the burst momentum so the breaking process can be controlled in order to achieve the necessary particle size or the shape of the walls (Fig. 1). Rock breakage is executed by drilling and blasting using non-electric initiating systems with usually short delays (25 or 42 ms). Main problems considering blasting quality defects are connected with the wrong short delay scheme or incorrect (too short or too long) delay [11]. The ROM (run of mine) quality is the main indicator of sustainable mining [31]. III. CLIMATE Climate in Estonia is variable, medium rainfall is 550-800 mm in a year, air temperature varies absolute maximum 35,6o C to absolute minimum -42,6o C in medium 5,6 o C in a year. Relative humidity is 80-85% [2]. In that kind of changeable weather using regular explosive materials is difficult and risky, in handy comes waterproof explosives that are allowing even blasting subwater [34][9] (Fig. 3). IV. TRAINING AND PREPARATION The main institutions dealing with explosives in Estonia are explosive companies, Estonian Technical Surveillance Authority, Estonian Association of Mining Enterprises, Pyrotechnic Association, Department of Mining of Tallinn University of Technology, Estonian Qualifications Authority plus military institutions. Another professional qualification activity is prepared by Estonian Mining Society for mining engineering professional qualification awarding. For that mining engineering standards has been accepted and curricula is opened according to this standard in the Department of Mining TUT. Drilling, blasting and explosive handling education in Estonia has been regularly given in the Department of Mining since 1938. [30] Preparing the site for rock blasting starts with drilling blastholes (Fig. 4; Fig. 5) after that comes loading the boreholes manually (Fig. 6), placing the detonators and 214 Fig. 2. Locations of Estonian mineral deposits that are usually excavated by drilling and blasting. combining the net (Fig 7). Stemming the boreholes with remaining drill cuttings (Fig. 8) and the preparation site is set for the explosion (Fig. 9). To achieve the best results considering minimum consumption of explosive materials and as homogeneous broken rock as possible, the height of the bench, distance of the rows and columns of the blasting network and charge delays have to be in correlation with mining conditions, explosive properties and previous experience. Fig. 3. Subwater blasting. Blasting itself causes vibration, noise, dust and flyrock (Fig. 10, Fig. 11, Fig. 12, Fig. 13) that has to be minimized for the sake of environment and social aspect [26]. Fig. 4. Blastholes drilling in Vasalemma limestone quarry. Fig. 5. Blast hole in limestone. 215 Fig. 6. Loading boreholes in Vasalemma limestone quarry. Fig 7. Short delay net in Väo limestone quarry. Fig. 8. Stemming of blast holes. V. ENVIRONMENTAL ASPECTS The main activities in seismic monitoring and analyses include cross country seismic analyses for large seismic events as blasting in oil shale open casts, limestone and dolostone quarries, construction blasting and military events. The main problem related to underground blasting in oil shale mines is related to the fracturing of support pillars, weakening of immediate roof layers causing danger of roof collapsing, pillar collapsing, mine section collapsing and land subsidence. Large scale blasting needs mainly optimisation analyses for even fragmentation of rocks, low seismic, dust and noise affect. [30] Fig. 9. Preparation for blasting is complete, Väo limestone quarry. Fig. 10. Blasting limestone in Väo limestone quarry, part 1. Fig. 11. Blasting limestone in Väo limestone quarry, part 2. Department of Mining in Tallinn University of Technology is monitoring blasting caused vibration, noise and dust in all mining conditions to find the correlation between different mining conditions and quantity of explosives. Environmental aspects of blasting are measured by precise measuring equipment (Fig. 14, Fig. 16) to control the environmental and social safety (Fig. 15, Fig. 18). Different aspects of using dangerous materials and its safety usage is bounded with human factor, causing the fact that explosives handling has higher requirements [8][7][30]. 216 Fig. 12. Blasting limestone in Väo limestone quarry, part 3. Fig. 13. Blasting limestone in Väo limestone quarry, part 4. The resulting ROM. Fig. 14. Placing geophone to measure the blasting vibration in Vasalemma limestone quarry. Fig. 15. The results in measuring blasting vibrations in Tondi-Väo limestone quarry. VI. LEGISLATION Safety requirements of blasting require detailed legislation system. In Australia under the NSW Explosives legislation, it is illegal for a person to handle explosives or explosive precursors unless the person holds a SC that is in force. In addition a person handling an explosive or explosive precursor must be authorised to do by a licence granted by WorkCover. A person must not handle an explosive or a SSDS unless authorised to do so by a licence (Table I). Fig. 16. Preparation of vibration and noise measures in Vasalemma limestone quarry. Fig. 17. Equipment set to measure blasting vibrations in Väo II limestone quarry. Fig. 18. Noise measuring in Vasalemma limestone quarry. WorkCover may grant 11 different types of licences (Table I). To apply for a licence the applicant must undertake an approved training course and assessment in the use of blasting explosives and requested shot-firing methods through a registered training organisation. [36] 217 To apply for a new licence for Explosives Licence there must be provided following information: • Application to conduct a National Police check and ASIO security assessment form including Drivers licence details (if held) • a current interstate blasting explosives licence OR proof of passing a VWA approved test or course at a registered training organisation in either: • general blasting • oil wells • open cut mines and quarries • underground mining • 100 points of proof of identity • one passport quality and size photograph For underground blasting, you must provide a letter of experience showing 6 months continuous employment in mines. For open cut blasting, you must provide a letter of experience showing 12 production shots in open cut mines and quarries. Licence is valid for up to 5 years and applying has a fee [35]. TABLE I TYPES OF LICENSES AND AUTHORIZED ACTIVITIES IN AUSTRALIA [36] VII. LEGISLATION IN ESTONIA Occupational qualifications system is based on the EQF levels. The EQF is a reference framework of different formal education qualifications (general education, vocational education and training, higher education) and occupational qualifications (sectoral qualifications). The EQF links the qualification systems of the EU Member States and makes qualifications of different countries more mutually understandable and comparable. Estonian standards for explosive qualifications starting on EQF level 3 in Associate pyrotechnician to level 8 Chartered mining engineer (Table II). The highest level of occupational qualification standard (Chartered mining engineer level 8) requires the highest requirements considering education, work experience and life-long learning (Table III). The standard contains different fields of mining (quarrying, underground mining, planning etc). Highest requirements go hand in hand with highest responsibility. Chartered mining engineer EQF level 8 makes all the strategically important decisions considering how, where and when to use drilling and blasting and explosive materials, taking into account the processing equipment parameters, the need from the client, the economy and other possible aspects. The standards contain different parts: • Part A – description of the occupation), provides an overview of the nature of work, major parts of work and tasks, necessary tools, etc. • Part B – is a basis for the assessment of the applicant and • Part C - contains general information about the qualification. (Table III) 218 TABLE II FORMAL EDUCATION AND OCCUPATIONAL QUALIFICATION STANDARDS IN ESTONIA [16][17][19][18][20][15][14][13][12] Formal education qualifications Level Occupational groups and occupational qualifications Estonian explosives qualification standards Basic education certificate based on simplified curriculum; 1 - Basic education certificate; VET certificate level 2 (without basic education requirement) 2 Elementary workers (Cleaner assistant...) - VET certificate level 3 3 Skilled workers, machine operators, Service and sales workers, Clerical support workers (Logger, Baker, Carpenter, ...) Associate pyrotechnician 3 Blaster 3 Pyrotechnician 4 Blasting master 4 Upper secondary general education certificate; VET certificate level 4 (upper secondary VET) 4 VET certificate level 5 (based on upper secondary education certificate) 5 Technicians and craft masters, front line managers, clerical workers (Electrician, Construction Site Manager, Accountant, ...) Pyrotechnician 5 Mining technician 5 Bachelor's degree, Professional higher education certificate 6 Specialists, supervisors (Energy auditor, Career Counsellor, ...) Mining engineer 6 Master's degree 7 Specialists, managers (Diploma Engineer, ...) Diploma mining engineer 7 Doctoral degree 8 Senior specialists, top managers (Principal Architect, Chartered Engineer, ...) Chartered mining engineer 8 TABLE III COMPARISON OF MINING ENGINEER LEVEL 6 TO 8 QUALIFICATION STANDARDS AUTHORITY Mäeinsener, tase 6 Diplomeeritud mäeinsener, tase 7 Volitatud mäeinsener, tase 8 Kohustuslikud tööosad A.2.1 Inseneritöö olemasolevate tehnoloogiate käigushoidmisel, tase 6 x A.2.1 Inseneritöö tehnoloogiate käitamisel ja arendamisel, tase 7 x A.2.1 Inseneritöö tehnoloogia käigushoidmisel, täiustamisel ja arendamisel, tase 8 x A.2.2 Juhtimine x x x A.2.3 Kutsealale pühendumine x x x A.2.4 Suhtlemine x x x Spetsialiseerumine x A.2.5 Maavarade pealmaakaevandamine x x x A 2.6 Maavarade allmaakaevandamine ja allmaa-kaeveõõne teisene kasutamine x x x A 2.7 Maardlate uuring x x x Valitavad kompetentsid Projekteerimine x* x x Teadus-ja õppetöö x x Arendus ja juhtimine x x Maavara töötlemine ja turustamine x x x Maapõueressursside poliitika - x x Ohutus- ja omanikujärelevalve - x x VIII. LEGISLATION IN UNITED KINGDOM In United Kingdom under the UK Commission for Employment and Skills is working a system - National Occupational Standards (NOS) [27]. The Standards Setting Body for Explosives, Munitions and Search Occupations (SSB for EMSO) was established in 2000 to develop National Occupational Standards and National Vocational Qualifications (NVQs) for those involved in munition clearance (i.e. bomb disposal both EOD and IEDD) and search activities. The set of explosives related standard contains around 500 standards found on NOS website at http://nos.ukces.org.uk/ (Fig. 19). Fig 19 UK standard database. 219 IX. NETWORKING KCEM (Competence Centre for Energetic Materials) in Karlskoga in Sweden has been engaged at the European level, where the problems are similar to those in the Swedish explosives sector. A network (EUExNet) has been built within the framework of the EU project EUExcert (Fig. 20). The overall goal for the EUExcert project has been that through certifying professional knowledge in the explosives industry it will ensure necessary expertise in the profession, increase the status and mobility through a certification system based on the internationally recognized UK Professional Standards and ECVET principles, bring together industry expertise to develop appropriate control systems in safety and risk assessments and underpin European competitiveness in the explosives industry built on safety, security and knowledge. [5] In 2011 the EUExcert Association was founded, whose members (universities, associations, companies) through structured nodes with 5-10 people acting as representatives of their countries. The main seat of the association is located in Karlskoga [3]. During beginning of new phase of the project, the network of EUExImp has been formed to identify the key roles of the explosive sector [4]: 1 – Research, Design and Development 2 – Safety Management 3 – Test & Evaluation 4 – Manufacture 5 – Maintenance 6 – Procurement 7 – Storage 8 – Movement 9 – Facilities Management 10 – Other applications 11 – Disposal 12 – Munitions Clearance and Search 13 - Generic Fig. 20. Project partners for EUExcert [6]. EFEE was founded in 1988, and has 24 member nations. Its purpose is to provide a European forum for professionals working in the field of explosives techniques in rock. In 1998, EFEE started issuing European Shotfirer Licenses based on existing national licenses in the member nations. The aim is to enable this category of professional engineers to apply for jobs outside their own countries without time-consuming delays in obtaining appropriate permits. EFEE is strongly involved in current discussions concerning EU working standards in the field [6]. To enhance the work with a future harmonised European Shotfirer education EFEE has established a document outlining the necessary Shotfirer requirements EFEE feels are vital for supporting free mobility for Shotfirers within Europe (Table IV). TABLE IV NATIONAL SHOTFIRER LICENSE FROM AN EFEE APPROVED COUNTRY [6] COUNTRY APPROVED COUNTRY APPROVED Austria x Netherlands x Belgium Norway x Bulgaria Poland Czech Republic x Portugal x Denmark x Russia x Estonia Slovak Republic x Finland x Slovenia x France x Spain Germany x Sweden x Hungary Switzerland x Kazakhstan x Ukraine Liechtenstein x Luxemburg United Kingdom x CONCLUSIONS Explosive sector is waving similarly to the mining sector. Techniques have been developed but personal qualifications, certification and safety issues need to follow or bypass the development. For that purpose networks like EUExImp have been formed. 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