Escapeways are an integral part of every mine. They rarely get used, but when they do, it is imperative that they remain in a fit state.
Most traditional ladders are subject to corrosion issues due to water, salt, mineral deposits, and other harsh mining environments. A need was identified for a ladderway that meets key safety requirements, is cost-effective, and can be delivered and installed in a timely manner.
Safecape’s Laddertube checks all the boxes, with their innovative state-of-the-art escapeway system designed specifically for use in underground mines.
What is Laddertube?
Laddertube is a fully enclosed, durable polyethylene product that is not impacted by water, salt, or other mineral deposits. The product is made from strong, lightweight plastic and is easily installed as an escapeway or manway for underground mines. Being fully enclosed, it keeps out rocks, water and salt build up that might slow an escape.
Safescape Laddertube’s resilient plastic construction will not rust or deteriorate, fits comfortably within a 1.1 m raisebore, and a backfilled annulus ensures the excavation remains stable for the life of the mine.
Laddertube complies with WA Mines Safety and Inspection Regulations 1995, the design and testing criteria of AS1657, and MSHA requirements.
Designed by miners, for miners
Safescape Laddertube was designed for miners, by miners, and is used primarily as a secondary egress escapeway ladder. Safescape Laddertube can also be found in manways.
Laddertube is a straight line ladder system with landing gate style platforms. The design allows for a rapid stretcher extraction and has a built-in fall arrest static line.
Climbing with breathing apparatus is aided by the smooth interior surface of the ladderway. The design of the steps also allows the climber to use their lower leg muscles and reduces foot fatigue – a significant benefit compared to rung style ladders.
First installation in Victoria
Safeacape’s first Laddertube escapeway installation was deployed in Victoria, Australia in 2010. Since the first installation, over 44 kilometres of Safescape Laddertube has been supplied to over 120 mine sites across the globe.
Quick turnaround resumes mine operations
The company noted: “While the introduction of Safescape to the industry has not been without its challenges, the opportunity to work with innovative and progressive clients to provide a safer product for miners has been, in itself, rewarding. Safescape has been able to work with its clients to solve challenges above and beyond day-to-day challenges.”
Case in point was the closure of a mine site, as the 160 metre section of the site’s oldest steel ladder, extending from the old open-pit mine down into the underground workings, was deemed unsatisfactory due to excessive corrosion following a routine inspection.
Until the ladder could be replaced, the mine was forced to close, which meant that a short turnaround time for replacement was critical to avoid serious economic loss.
Safecape was able to utilise a similarly-sized order that was awaiting shipment. However, no vehicle access existed to enable the delivery of the Laddertube modules into the pit. Safescape therefore had to think outside the box to install the Laddertube safely and efficiently. This was achieved by utilising a helicopter to lift the modules and installation equipment into the pit.
“We were fortunate that the ladders were available and are relieved that Safescape were, with the assistance of their dedicated workforce, still able to meet their original order for the ladders sent to the US”
The Chief Operating Officer on site commented: “This was a truly exceptional outcome and provided a classic example of the support needed from time-to-time in this industry.
We were fortunate that the ladders were available and are relieved that Safescape were, with the assistance of their dedicated workforce, still able to meet their original order for the ladders sent to the US. It was not only the ladders that they provided but a full installation system to Australian Standards, meeting all the regulators requirements and saving further time.”
The Laddertube escapeway was installed safely and efficiently in nine days and the mine site was permitted to continue with normal operation.