New Software Reduces Risk of Post Blast Ground Falls in Mines

Mining engineers can use the DRIFT program to develop conceptual blast designs and produce potential damage calculations.

A new software developed by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health—a division of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention—seeks to reduce the risk of post-blast ground falls in mines, helping to improve safety for miners.

Controlled blasting is often used to create entries, or drifts, in underground metal and nonmetal mines. But poor blast design can lead to safety risks for miners, particularly if the blasts lead to scaling, excessive overbreak and damage to supporting ground, NIOSH said.

To make it easier for engineers to limit damage areas surrounding the blast zone, researchers at NIOSH developed DRIFT, an acronym for Design method to Reduce risk of Injury from ground Falls Technique. The software combines perimeter blast designs with a buffer row to reduce ground falls that can occur from perimeter damage, according to NIOSH.

“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,” Dr. Jessica Kogel, the associate director for mining at NIOSH, said in a statement.

The program allows engineers to create a conceptual blast design, providing nine blast damage models to use when developing and evaluating designs. DRIFT can also produce damage calculations for each blasthole, allowing the user to determine the spacing necessary for each buffer row.

Engineers can save, revise and print blast designs along with graphs and calculations. Since DRIFT is a conceptual tool, NIOSH continues to recommend field trials and refinements “until design objectives are met for each entry.” The latest version of DRIFT is available for download here.

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