A system safety approach provides an overview of the overall effectiveness of the safety controls that extends beyond the machines and can be a useful qualitative tool for operations when assessing the overall safety of their systems. This type of systems approach is especially important as highly autonomous and highly integrated solutions evolve.

In 2021, GMG published the System Safety for Autonomous Mining White Paper, an introductory overview of some system safety concepts to consider when introducing autonomous systems in mining. It addressed topics that GMG participants consider important in achieving the goals of safe implementation, such as a system safety lifecycle, risk management, safety case, human-systems integration, and software safety management. The white paper was always intended to be a first step in providing industry guidance and understanding on system safety because the topic was still new to mining.

Now that the industry is becoming more advanced in this space, this new guideline project aims to provide more complete guidance on applying system safety to autonomous systems in mining.


The purpose of this guideline is to provide guidance on applying system safety practices to autonomous systems in mining. It acts as both an informative document on system safety and a reference for reviewing end-user internal processes against industry best practices.

The guideline begins with an introduction of a lifecycle “V” model that provides an overview of safety-related activities throughout a systems lifecycle along with a high-level summary of the phases and the inputs and outputs of each. Following the lifecycle “V” model are several considerations that should be included in system safety to help ensure risks related to adopting automation are minimized as much as practicable.

A major section in the guideline is on product upgrade development. This section includes a high-level process map for managing product upgrades, beginning with product upgrade notifications, and ending with monitoring.

Finally, the guideline ends with a section on safety case development that considers perspectives from both the mining operator and the original product supplier. It includes recommended resources for safety cases and common safety case information.