Working in underground facilities is associated with an increased level of risk. Several projects are being carried out to evaluate safety especially in the mining industry, and to some degree in underground laboratories. One part of the preparatory work for the EUL network is aimed at risk assessment.
During the preparatory work for EUL, within the EU project BSUIN, the safety routines were evaluated for all the underground laboratories. Similar national safety requirements are applied to all the facilities. A risk assessment procedure in underground laboratories has been developed.
As an example, KGHM Cuprum has investigated the following risk aspects:
Identification of potential risks in underground workings.
Preliminary risk assessment.
Proposals for risk minimization and prevention methods.
Based on interviews with the staff working at the underground laboratories, a preliminary version of a block diagram was developed to describe the risk assessment procedure in underground laboratories.
Risk assessment steps and guidelines for the underground laboratories:
EUL increase the safety for visitors in historical mines
Many challenges may occur in historic mines visited by tourist groups such as in Ruskeala Mountain Park, Russia. The requirements for operating and maintaining underground facilities have changed considerably during its hundred-year history. The service life was planned only for short-term projects, such as mineral extraction, and not for long-term use in the future.
Historic underground locations may be managed and owned by organizations not familiar with underground safety. Economic challenges may occur if the safety functions are outsourced. The costs and safety can be controlled by the owners if only part of the facility is used and large underground spaces are avoided. A tour of only a few kilometres is generally enough to display past working conditions of the miners and to show the geological structure of the site. A one hour route is generally enough to give an interesting touristic experience.
The team from the Ruskeala underground laboratory is currently developing safety measures, management and technologies suitable for underground museums to provide tourists with a safe visit to the underground museum. This complies with the regulatory rules through the EUL network to increase safety in these kinds of historic underground attractions.