System Safety for Autonomous Mining [White Paper]

Published: 2021-09-29
Working Group: Autonomous Mining


The purpose of this white paper is to provide a comprehensive view of the need for a system safety approach for those deploying and using autonomous systems in the mining industry. It aims to increase awareness of system safety and its benefits in delivering and maintaining safe and efficient autonomous systems. It applies to all autonomous machines and to the integration of autonomous and semi-autonomous machines with manually operated machines, as well as to complex integrated systems of systems across the mining industry.

Core topics:

  • Introduction and Background: Provides history and context about system safety.  
  • System Safety Management: Provides an overview of applying a system safety approach by describing an example of a lifecycle and offering further considerations about hazard identification and risk assessment and non-deterministic systems.  
  • Safety Case: Defines the purpose of a safety case in the context of autonomous systems.  
  • Human-Systems Integration: Describes the significance of eliminating or controlling risks to humans and the environment over the course of a system’s lifecycle.
  • Software Safety Management: Provides context on some factors that influence the degree of risk reduction that can be considered for a software-based safety control in the development and operation of autonomous systems. 


Figure 1. System Safety Viewed from the Broader Context of Workplace Safety, adapted from the GMG Guideline for Applying Functional Safety to Autonomous Systems in Mining (2020)
Figure 2. Example of System Safety Lifecycle for Applying Autonomous Systems in Mining





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