Keeping cool in the mines

open-mine-shotIt’s no secret that working in the mines throughout Australia is demanding, exhaustive work.

With 12-hour days (or longer) being the norm, working in the heat of the sun or the humidity underground can really take a lot out of you. Factors such as dehydration and heatstroke can be very real, which is why it is critical that safety measures are taken to stay cool and hydrated while working in such an environment. In today’s article, we’re going to offer you some tips on how to stay cool in the mines.

1. Air conditioning

Of course, not every worker in the mines can rely on air conditioning, but for those operating heavy machinery for X amount of hours each day, air conditioning is an absolute must. When you consider several mining areas can push 40°C+ temperatures on a daily basis (many with a large amount of accompanying humidity), heat exhaustion and greater health risks do exist.

Add to the mix the factor of operating heavy machinery, and you’re essentially in a vehicle that blocks off any windflow or fresh air that could otherwise be offered when the weather is kind. So air conditioning for heavy and mining-specific vehicles is an absolute must. And, of course, break rooms should include air conditioning so that workers have at least some time to cool off.

2. Keep hydrated

While hydration doesn’t necessarily make you feel an immediate cooling sensation, maintaining your fluid levels (particularly water and hydrating/electrolyte-heavy drinks) is important for a couple of reasons. First of all, remaining hydrated allows your body to continue sweating. As we all know, sweating is our body’s natural way of trying to keep us cool. The effectiveness of sweating may be trumped when there’s a lot of humidity in the air, but this actually makes staying hydrated more important.

Combating humidity is the second important role that hydration serves. When you’re in an environment where there are high temperatures and humidity, this makes you more prone to suffering heat exhaustion or even a heatstroke. When humidity prevents your sweat from cooling you down, your body can eventually stop sweating as it works overtime. The lack of sweating occurs primarily when there isn’t enough fluids in your system to keep going. Once you stop sweating, dehydration becomes severe, your body temperature increases exponentially, and this is what leads to heatstroke. So even if keeping up your fluids doesn’t make you feel cool in a more common way, it will help ensure your body temperature does not rise to dangerous heights.

3. Know when you’ve reached your limit

Keeping cool also comes to knowing when you’ve reached your limit. While working in the mines is undoubtedly demanding, even you need to know when you need to take a break. If you find yourself feeling ill from the heat, ask if you can take a break to cool down and get your fluids back up. Often that sense of having a ‘touch of the heat’ can be resolved by taking a small break, rehydrating and having something to eat to boost your energy levels. As long as you regularly keep your fluids up and take your assigned breaks, you should rarely encounter an issue like this. But if it does happen, take a break, otherwise it could lead to some truly damaging health issues.


Got any other tips on how to stay cool in the mines? Share them with us in the comments below.