The Department of Primary Industries has released a safety alert encouraging all mines using self-rescue breathing apparatus’ to review their systems for managing the use, storage and inspection of these units.
During a practical demonstration of self-rescue unit, a member of a mine rescue team attempted to activate and wear a unit.
The team member found that the mouthpiece and breathing circuit had been contaminated with a yellow powder and was unusable.
An investigation into the incident by the DPI found that the compromised self-rescue units were approaching the end of their service life (approximately five years). The units displayed signs of substantial damage (dents) to the metal lid of the unit and to the plastic housing.
The units tested appeared to have been frequently and significantly impacted/dented and each unit exhibited varying presences of yellow dust. This dust has originated from the chemical pellets used in the unit. It appears the pellets had deteriorated during prolonged abrasion within the self-rescue unit.
The damage to the self-rescue unit outer case is thought to have occurred during day-to-day handling underground, and also during the end of shift ‘return’ procedure. This procedure involved dropping the units into a storage box with a ‘spring loaded’ base.
Dropping the self-rescue units on top of each other has contributed significantly to the damage to their protective casing and the deterioration of the chemical pellets.