Deep down safety for miners

Ultra-deep mines are those that reach 2.5 kilometres below the earth’s surface. They are not an easy place to work; as the depth increases, so does the temperature. In an ultra-deep mine, ambient heat from rocks and humidity meets heat from machinery and human activity to create a hazardous mix. Miners in ultra-deep mines follow a reduced work-rest cycle to prevent heat stress.

Modified hours are only part of what it takes to keep miners safe and Jannatec Technologies, which has been developing safety products for the mining industry for over 25 years, undertook to design a new kind of coverall that could complement deep-mine thermal management systems, meet safety standards and keep miners comfortable as they worked.

To achieve its goal of creating innovative work wear for ultra-deep mining employees, Jannatec Technologies partnered with researchers at two Canadian institutions — George Brown College’s School of Fashion Studies and the Olds College Apparel Innovation Centre. George Brown’s research team was headed by investigators Edith Strasser and Daniel Somsavath and included three students from the School of Fashion. Throughout the project, the team relied on guidance from Jannatec as it evaluated current designs in work wear for ultra-deep mines, looking for feedback on efficiencies and wearer requirements.

“This project helped hone my skills,” one of the fashion students said. “It introduced me to the people working in sciences that rely on people in design — who have little understanding of the scientist’s goals.”

When they were ready, the research team first created a prototype in cotton canvas, then produced the next prototype in two textiles in standard sizes, to allow Jannatec to test and compare them. The final deliverables also included a pattern with a sizing sheet for the prototype design.

Applied research in this area is expanding at the college, and student-faculty teams have completed a range of successful projects to solve apparel design problems and commercialize new products. The work of this George Brown team will lead to a safer working environment for miners everywhere, as Jannatec Technologies gets one step closer to manufacturing on a large scale.

Funded by: Ontario Centres of Excellence

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