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Designing safer mine blasts: NIOSH releases software

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Washington — In an effort to mitigate the risk of post-blast ground falls in underground mines, NIOSH has developed an online software tool intended to help mining engineers develop safe and efficient designs for controlled blasting operations.

Design method to Reduce risk of Injury from ground Falls Technique, or DRIFT, allows engineers to coordinate perimeter and buffer rows when composing blast designs. According to NIOSH, the technique limits the chances of poor blast design, which may loosen or damage rock in the roof and ribs of a drift, or mine entry, when the blast force surpasses the target area.

A report from the Mine Safety and Health Administration’s fatality alert archives details how a miner was fatally injured in October when conducting blasting operations.

“DRIFT is an invaluable tool for mines that want both more control over their blasting designs and a reduced risk of ground falls for workers,” Jessica Kogel, associate director for mining at NIOSH, said in the release.

Users can save, revise and print blast designs, graphs and calculations, or they can use a manual design option. NIOSH suggests engineers complete sufficient field trials and refinements “until design objectives are met for each entry before blasting is undertaken.”

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