Importance of safety berms at dump sites

Maintaining haul road or overburden tip berms (or bunds) at the correct height has become a safety critical operation at mines and dumps around the globe. Berm maintenance has in the past been a minor operational task, requiring occasional grader or dozer attention of secondary importance. Perhaps not so any more.

Since 1990 there has been an average of one fatality per year due to inadequate safety berms at dumping points (Giacomini and Theoni, 2015) which were completely preventable had sufficient attention been paid to the issue. Indeed, it is thought that dump-point related accidents are rather more severe than other surface mine accidents and consequent lost productivity.

Any area within a mine which has heavy traffic flows, and in particular with reversing operations, can end up being an accident ‘hot-spot’. Research by the U.S. Bureau of Mines (May 1990) found that dump-point accidents over a 4-year period in the industry lead to thousands of lost workdays and several fatalities, the majority of the incidents being related to haul trucks.

Even with damaging statistics like these, the design, construction and most importantly, the maintenance of berms have, aside from some recent government industry oversight departments’ intervention, been traditionally determined by ‘rule of thumb’ experience. The inclusion of minimum berm heights related to the axle height of the largest vehicles operating in the area, along with guidelines for the thickness and firmness of the berm, should have solved the problem. This is particularly so as more recent studies (Giacomini and Theoni, 2015) indicated the importance of berms as a safety barrier for reversing haul trucks as a ‘tactile’ feedback mechanism to drivers, assisting them in identifying when they should stop and where the edge of the dump was.

The height of the berms in any mine is vitally important and is a critical safety mechanism which contributes to the overall safety of haul truck drivers.

Further considerations relating to the berms are material and geometry, which can be summarized as:

  • Material type used to construct the berm. This is normally re-mined material that can contain various sizes and types of material. This also has an impact on the angle of repose that the material can achieve, which relates indirectly to its effectiveness.
  • Berm height. Various berm heights are present on a mine however, the rule of thumb still applies to the berm being at least half the diameter of the largest truck in operation,
  • Geometry of the berm. Recent studies showed that where possible, trapezoidal shape should be applied to berms at the dump-point, as they are efficient in keeping their shape after various impacts from trucks at dumping.
  • Maintenance of the berm. Without constant and efficient maintenance of the berms, the likelihood of berm failure increases after each impact from dumping trucks
  • Angle of approach. Haul truck drivers should be adequately trained to ensure that 90° angle is used at dumping sites. 75° angle of approach has a dramatic and negative effect on the stability, shape and effectiveness of berms. This will allow higher wheel climb and possibly lead to the haul truck going over the berm.

If the berm height, and to some extent the geometry, are crucial factors for safety, then the knowledge of when corrective maintenance on them is required is critical to operations. A completely automated berm height measuring system based on laser scanning clearly has the potential to remove not only ‘rule of thumb’ based decision making, but also allow a fully integrated alerting system to be provided over a mine communication network. Once deficient berms are identified and located, relevant mine staff can be informed and tasking for grader or dozer operators created, either manually or automatically. If synchronized into a fleet management system, haul trucks can be re-routed to alternate dumps or haul routes in real time maintaining operational efficiency.

With global demand for commodities rising and mining activities increasing, pressure on mining companies to stay competitive through productivity enhancements while keeping employees safe, is a major focus and an undisputed imperative. Having safety berms in place, and in accordance with safety guidelines, is an essential part of the goal of ensuring accident and fatality free mines, whilst improving efficiency by reducing lost workdays and maintaining production.

Content Hub

Keep up to date with our Content Hub for engaging thought leadership industry news and GeoSLAM updates.

Q&A with Mario Miranda, GeoSLAM Ecuador and Peru dealer

Q&A with Mario Miranda, GeoSLAM Ecuador and Peru dealer

Learn more
Connected Construction: Shaping a Digital Future

Connected Construction: Shaping a Digital Future

Learn more
Smithsonian Event: Laser Scanning Becoming Key Component of Historic Preservation

Smithsonian Event: Laser Scanning Becoming Key Component of Historic Preservation

Learn more
GeoSLAM help law enforcement improve response times by 21%

GeoSLAM help law enforcement improve response times by 21%

Learn more
Hitting the High Notes: ZEB Horizon scans the Sydney Opera House in ten minutes

Hitting the High Notes: ZEB Horizon scans the Sydney Opera House in ten minutes

Learn more
Q&A with: Denmark dealer, Bjarne Fredheim, Pro-maling

Q&A with: Denmark dealer, Bjarne Fredheim, Pro-maling

Learn more
Capturing the Reality of Tunnel Warfare with 3D Mobile Laser Scanning

Capturing the Reality of Tunnel Warfare with 3D Mobile Laser Scanning

Learn more
Discover what happened at Intergeo 2019

Discover what happened at Intergeo 2019

Learn more
Q&A with Bert Meuleman, GeoSLAM Belgium dealer

Q&A with Bert Meuleman, GeoSLAM Belgium dealer

Learn more
GeoSLAM goes North with new dealer in Iceland

GeoSLAM goes North with new dealer in Iceland

Learn more
Autonomous Mapping in Harsh and Hostile Environments

Autonomous Mapping in Harsh and Hostile Environments

Learn more
GeoSLAM Partners with Microsol Resources

GeoSLAM Partners with Microsol Resources

Learn more
GeoSLAM helps leading media company Zien24 revolutionise their digital workflow

GeoSLAM helps leading media company Zien24 revolutionise their digital workflow

Learn more
New partnership for GeoSLAM and NORMET

New partnership for GeoSLAM and NORMET

Learn more
Senior Promotion to bolster GeoSLAM growth

Senior Promotion to bolster GeoSLAM growth

Learn more
Home renovation made easy with the ZEB Family

Home renovation made easy with the ZEB Family

Learn more
GEO Business and SPAR 3D Expo: A tale of two events

GEO Business and SPAR 3D Expo: A tale of two events

Learn more
Getting to know you: Abhishek Bhartiya

Getting to know you: Abhishek Bhartiya

Learn more
GeoSLAM expands service centre in France with Geomesure

GeoSLAM expands service centre in France with Geomesure

Learn more
Safe, fast data capture with ZEB REVO on waste management project

Safe, fast data capture with ZEB REVO on waste management project

Learn more
The Dos and Don’ts of Aerial Surveying

The Dos and Don’ts of Aerial Surveying

Learn more
Experience Strongest Ever SLAM with our upgrade campaign

Experience Strongest Ever SLAM with our upgrade campaign

Learn more
GeoSLAM responds to the Geospatial Commission

GeoSLAM responds to the Geospatial Commission

Learn more
Attracting and Retaining the Next Generation of Talent

Attracting and Retaining the Next Generation of Talent

Learn more
Global expansion on the horizon for GeoSLAM

Global expansion on the horizon for GeoSLAM

Learn more
GeoSLAM feature on NatWest Business Hub

GeoSLAM feature on NatWest Business Hub

Learn more
GeoSLAM providing inspiration in maths

GeoSLAM providing inspiration in maths

Learn more
GeoSLAM mobile technology features in Science Channel Series in the US

GeoSLAM mobile technology features in Science Channel Series in the US

Learn more
GeoSLAM launches new ZEB-HORIZON 3D Mobile Scanner

GeoSLAM launches new ZEB-HORIZON 3D Mobile Scanner

Learn more
GeoSLAM Launches Game-Changing Technology in the UK during Digital Construction Week

GeoSLAM Launches Game-Changing Technology in the UK during Digital Construction Week

Learn more
Importance of safety berms at dump sites

Importance of safety berms at dump sites

Learn more
KTP Case Study: Predictive Monitoring of Rail Infrastructure

KTP Case Study: Predictive Monitoring of Rail Infrastructure

Learn more
Scanning through wire mesh with SITEMONITOR LIVE

Scanning through wire mesh with SITEMONITOR LIVE

Learn more
PROCESSMONITOR LIVE shotlisted for Tunnelling Award!

PROCESSMONITOR LIVE shotlisted for Tunnelling Award!

Learn more
Automated Stockpile Volume Monitoring

Automated Stockpile Volume Monitoring

Learn more
3D Laser Mapping & GeoSLAM Global Merger Announced

3D Laser Mapping & GeoSLAM Global Merger Announced

Learn more
GeoSLAM’s CSR Strategy to Promote Students’ English Skills

GeoSLAM’s CSR Strategy to Promote Students’ English Skills

Learn more
The benefits of measuring Shotcrete during application

The benefits of measuring Shotcrete during application

Learn more
GeoSLAM to Demo Fast, Easy and Versatile 3D Mobile Laser Scanning at 2018 SPAR3D Conference

GeoSLAM to Demo Fast, Easy and Versatile 3D Mobile Laser Scanning at 2018 SPAR3D Conference

Learn more
GeoSLAM to showcase the Future of Construction at Geo Business 2018

GeoSLAM to showcase the Future of Construction at Geo Business 2018

Learn more
GeoSLAM take Geoterra to new heights with ContextCapture Solution from Bentley

GeoSLAM take Geoterra to new heights with ContextCapture Solution from Bentley

Learn more
GeoSLAM and Corporate Social Responsibility

GeoSLAM and Corporate Social Responsibility

Learn more
GeoSLAM Academy Events prove a hit with customers

GeoSLAM Academy Events prove a hit with customers

Learn more
Quickly and Safely Mapping our Underground World

Quickly and Safely Mapping our Underground World

Learn more
GeoSLAM announces UK distributor agreement with KOREC

GeoSLAM announces UK distributor agreement with KOREC

Learn more
GeoSLAM celebrates 5 years in business with new HQ, record growth

GeoSLAM celebrates 5 years in business with new HQ, record growth

Learn more
GeoSLAM Launch Time & Cost Saving 3D Mobile Laser Scanners at Dallas Fall BIM Forum 2017

GeoSLAM Launch Time & Cost Saving 3D Mobile Laser Scanners at Dallas Fall BIM Forum 2017

Learn more
GeoSLAM and Bentley Systems join forces to take mobile reality modelling indoors

GeoSLAM and Bentley Systems join forces to take mobile reality modelling indoors

Learn more
GeoSLAM Changing The Economics of 3D Laser Scanning with new product launches at INTERGEO

GeoSLAM Changing The Economics of 3D Laser Scanning with new product launches at INTERGEO

Learn more
Verity – GeoSLAM Collaboration Advances Real-Time Construction Quality Management

Verity – GeoSLAM Collaboration Advances Real-Time Construction Quality Management

Learn more
Reducing Scanning Time of Historic Sites from Weeks to Hours

Reducing Scanning Time of Historic Sites from Weeks to Hours

Learn more
GeoSLAM Unveils Predictions for Engineering’s Digital Future

GeoSLAM Unveils Predictions for Engineering’s Digital Future

Learn more
University Challenge: To Deliver Rapid 3D Results in Half the Time

University Challenge: To Deliver Rapid 3D Results in Half the Time

Learn more
GeoSLAM Global Network Expands Both East and West

GeoSLAM Global Network Expands Both East and West

Learn more
GeoSLAM to feature in upcoming BBC Show Countryfile

GeoSLAM to feature in upcoming BBC Show Countryfile

Learn more
Making Forest Surveys a Walk in the Park

Making Forest Surveys a Walk in the Park

Learn more
GeoSLAM signs up Seiler Instrument for Midwest USA Distribution

GeoSLAM signs up Seiler Instrument for Midwest USA Distribution

Learn more
GeoSLAM Expands Far East Operations with New Distributors

GeoSLAM Expands Far East Operations with New Distributors

Learn more
GeoSLAM Announces Real-Time Upgrade For ZEB-REVO

GeoSLAM Announces Real-Time Upgrade For ZEB-REVO

Learn more
Danish Distributor Attends Annual Surveying Congress

Danish Distributor Attends Annual Surveying Congress

Learn more
GeoSLAM Scores Top Marks at Century Old School

GeoSLAM Scores Top Marks at Century Old School

Learn more
Rapid Mobile Scanning for As Built Building Surveys

Rapid Mobile Scanning for As Built Building Surveys

Learn more
Taking care to save costs and minimise disruption without compromising accuracy

Taking care to save costs and minimise disruption without compromising accuracy

Learn more
The Future of Hazardous Unmanned Mobile Mapping

The Future of Hazardous Unmanned Mobile Mapping

Learn more
GeoSLAM Launches Zeb Cam for Zeb Revo

GeoSLAM Launches Zeb Cam for Zeb Revo

Learn more
GeoSLAM and Blackdog Robotics sign partnership agreement to supply unmanned mobile indoor mapping solutions

GeoSLAM and Blackdog Robotics sign partnership agreement to supply unmanned mobile indoor mapping solutions

Learn more
GeoSLAM Zeb Revo Shortlisted for Wichmann Awards

GeoSLAM Zeb Revo Shortlisted for Wichmann Awards

Learn more
ZEB1 makes history, mapping Brei Holm for BBC’s ‘Coast’

ZEB1 makes history, mapping Brei Holm for BBC’s ‘Coast’

Learn more
OPTRON Appointed as GeoSLAM Dealer for Sub Saharan Africa

OPTRON Appointed as GeoSLAM Dealer for Sub Saharan Africa

Learn more
GeoSLAM Announces Global Distribution Agreement for 3D Reshaper & PointCab

GeoSLAM Announces Global Distribution Agreement for 3D Reshaper & PointCab

Learn more
Laser Scanning the Rising Star Cave in the Cradle of Humankind, South Africa

Laser Scanning the Rising Star Cave in the Cradle of Humankind, South Africa

Learn more
Engineering results ten times faster than traditional survey methods

Engineering results ten times faster than traditional survey methods

Learn more