New Publication: GMG Guideline for Applying System Safety in Autonomous Mining

Applying system safety is a planned, disciplined, and systematic approach to identifying and controlling hazards by management procedures throughout a system’s lifecycle. System safety activities start in the earliest concept development stages of a project and continue until disposal. This guideline can be useful reference material for those who are challenged with consistently evaluating safety practices to meet the needs of autonomous technologies.

The Guideline for Applying System Safety in Autonomous Mining, newly published by Global Mining Guidelines Group (GMG), is intended to provide an understanding of system safety as a process that can assist with evaluating safety across the systems lifecycle rather than improving safety and health of personnel.

Instead of viewing the autonomous system as a single entity, system safety puts forth the understanding that the safety approach for an autonomous system will consist of many different safety-related activities across the systems lifecycle. This guideline includes input from both the original product suppliers’ (OPS) perspective and the mining operators’ perspective and includes safety case considerations from both.

This guideline provides insight from industry leaders while providing applicable regulatory references throughout the document that can be helpful when considering a system safety approach.

The project was headed by co-leads Chirag Sathe, Principal Autonomy, BHP; Carlos Viquez, Principal Major Hazards, Rio Tinto; and Gareth Topham, Director, CWG Project Services.

Viquez believes the guideline will give the mining industry a more detailed understanding of the potential risks associated with the autonomous system and the knowledge of how to manage them by applying system safety practices.

“To gain a reasonable understanding of risk scenarios related to autonomous mining and the potential causes leading to a reduction of risk controls performance, mine operators and product suppliers need a common ground to exchange their views,” he says. “GMG is the catalyst for this synergy to take place.”

This guideline provides recommendations for examining system safety from a continuous improvement perspective when introducing new technologies to an operation. There is no “end-phase” to the lifecycle as the goal is to always build off the system, ensuring safety is always a top priority. Specific topics covered include:

  •  Best practices for applying system safety principles, including an overview of a system safety lifecycle and guidance for safety management and safety case development.
  • Software safety management (e.g., training, software release management, access management, and recovery procedures).
  • Patch and upgrade management.

Topham says the guideline and its development through industry collaboration will drive actionable results.

“The evolution of the discussions related to introducing autonomous moving equipment in the mining industry has been tremendous. The goal of improving the safety for mine operations can only take big strides forward when so many stakeholders are involved in sharing good practices.” 

By applying the guideline principles, the reader will be familiarized with best safety practices and understanding of system safety for autonomous systems, creating a foundation for operational success and bringing them one step closer to zero incidents

Read the full guideline here.

GMG welcomes guideline users to provide feedback for future versions and to share their experiences of applying the guideline here.

Related Reading

Guideline for Applying Functional Safety to Autonomous Systems in Mining
Guideline for the Implementation of Autonomous Systems in Mining
System Safety for Autonomous Mining White Paper