System Safety for Autonomous Mining Guideline


The guideline aims to provide more complete guidance on applying system safety practices to autonomous systems in mining, building off GMG’s System Safety for Autonomous Mining white paper, published in 2021.

The guideline covers:

  • Good practices for applying system safety principles to non-deterministic systems.
  • Considerations for mixed and multi-vendor fleets, such as identification of protocols and their uses and discussion on responsibilities.
  • Good practices and considerations in software safety management (e.g., training, software release, management, access management, and recovery procedures).
  • Management of cyber-risks and protection against cyber-attacks as they relate to safely applying autonomous systems in mining.
  • Discussion on the applicability of risk assessment tools and different aspects of safety analysis.


Because system safety is not well understood across organizations, this guideline aims to provide more complete guidance on applying system safety to autonomous systems in mining. The guideline will act as both an educational piece on system safety and a reference for validating internal processes with industry best practices.


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.

Table of Contents

System Safety LifecycleThis section introduces the V Model, which serves as a structure for organizing and guiding the safety related activities throughout the system lifecycle.
System Safety Management Activities (System Safety Operational Activities)This section discusses system safety operational activities: change management, system upgrade management, management of systematic failures, configuration management, safety assurance, work design and competency management, maintenance plan, and cybersecurity and access management.
Safety Case DevelopmentThis section describes the purpose of a safety case and provides a venn diagram that shows what should be emphasized in an operator's safety case compared to an OEM's safety case and where the two safety cases will overlap.
Product Upgrade DevelopmentThis section focuses on the upgrade process, assuming that the system has already been deployed and validation has been done.

Sneak Peek

The V Model is a framework that maps out a project’s lifecycle and emphasizes the importance of testing and verification throughout the system lifecycle. It’s a way of differentiating system safety from functional safety by bringing in a systems engineering approach to understanding safety.

The V Model consists of a series of phases, beginning from the concept/design of the system to development and verification. A feedback loop of continuous improvement connects the phases back to one another to show that the lifecycle process is iterative and doesn’t necessarily end after testing and verification.

Series of phases explained:

  • Concept phase: the requirements for the autonomous system are defined and the early hazard analysis is conducted to identify potential safety hazards.
  • Building requirements phase: designing the system to meet those requirements and address the identified hazards.
  • Testing and verification phases: verifying that the system meets the requirements that were defined in the planning and design phase, as well as testing the system to ensure that it’s safe and reliable.

Experts Needed

Status Update
Lifecycle V-Model:
- Further development needed along with completion of input and output for each phase.
Sub-section 2.5 - Requirements Specifications
- Content requires input from volunteers for further contribution to the content while keeping it at a high-level process.
- Need other volunteers to comment on this section to prevent the scope from being too specific.
All sub-sections require a review of the current state.
Management Activities
Safety Case DevelopmentSafety Case Resources:
- Section should describe the function of regulations instead of a list, to assist stakeholders in understanding their role.
Product Upgrade DevelopmentSupplier and End-User Communications Methodology:
- Continuous Improvement (CI) should be included.
Installing and Commissioning Plan
- Input needed on what to consider for installation, commissioning, checklists to ensure readiness.


Currently, volunteers are completing the first round of revisions. The draft is expected to be completed by the end of August, 2023.



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