B2Gold Corp has published its fourth annual Responsible Mining Report – Raising the Bar – which details B2Gold’s global economic contributions and its environment, social, and governance management practices and the company’s performance against key indicators in 2019. One interesting aspect addressed in the report’s section on occupational health and safety is that of its progress so far with implementing advanced fatigue management systems at its operations.
B2Gold some years ago was proactive in identifying that one of its highest operational risks was fatigue and as such it closely monitors this at every one of our operations. “The primary purpose of our fatigue monitoring programs is to: a) ensure the health and safety of our workers by appropriately managing fatigue events and risks, and b) ensure a high level of operating efficiency by minimising operator fatigue and distraction. Managing fatigue effectively requires a multidisciplinary approach and does not rely solely on technology alone.”
In assessing symptoms, causes and approaches to address fatigue issues, B2Gold says it takes a holistic approach that focuses on: fatigue awareness counselling for operators, supervisor training to manage fatigue, improved fatigue reporting procedures, and awareness campaigns for worker families to learn about the risks associated with fatigue and to encourage support at home.
B2Gold states: “The solution to address operator fatigue at B2Gold is one in which technology, training and awareness combine to make our operations a safer place to work. Accordingly, our Masbate operation has had a Fatigue Management program in place since 2010, and in the early part of 2019 the Otjikoto Mine [Namibia] successfully completed full implementation of its Fatigue Management program, including the OpGuard monitoring system across its mobile fleet.” OpGuard was developed by Guardvant, which was acquired by Hexagon in 2018 and now forms part of Hexagon Mining’s HxGN MineProtect Operator Alertness System Heavy Vehicle (OAS-HV), an integrated fatigue-detection, alerting, and reporting solution that helps mining machinery operators to maintain the level of attention necessary for long hours and monotonous tasks. It uses a non-intrusive fatigue solution that proactively prevent accidents via an infrared camera that continuously monitors the operator for eyelid closure (PERCLOS), facial and head movements, and other unsafe behaviour while the vehicle is in motion. It features a web platform to continuously assess in real time the fatigue risks of individual operators and the complete fleet, allowing intervention, if necessary.
In the second half of 2019, the Fekola Mine [Mali] commenced implementation of a Fatigue Management program including the implementation of the Caterpillar DSS system. The initial trial period using 24 drivers over a one-month period resulted in a 98% reduction in fatigue events, and a 28% reduction in distracted driving events – an immediate positive impact. Work will continue with the implementation of the DSS system across the entire Fekola haul truck fleet in 2020, subsequent to additional positive feedback from drivers and supervisors. Caterpillar’s Driver Safety System (DSS) is also a non-intrusive, in-cab fatigue detection technology that instantly alerts operators the moment fatigue or distraction is identified. The DSS technology works by monitoring eye-closure duration and head pose. If the DSS detects a fatigue or distraction event the operator is immediately alerted through configurable in-vehicle seat vibration and/or audio alarm. The fatigue or distraction event is sent to a 24-hour monitoring centre to classify and confirm the event.
The DSS technology was first developed by Seeing Machines, with Caterpillar taking over manufacturing and sales in 2015. Seeing Machines last year signed an extended exclusive deal with Caterpillar where their agreement is extended for a further five years and also outlined a proposal for further development of Seeing Machines company’s IP into the Guardian and DSS solutions to co-develop next generation technology to enhance customer experience.