Acclimatizing Men to Heat in Climatic Rooms on Mines

Wyndham, C. H. ; Strydom, N. B.
Organization: The Southern African Institute of Mining and Metallurgy
Pages: 5
Publication Date: Unavailable
INTRODUCTION Acclimatization of the labour force to heat is an integral aspect of gold mining in South Africa. A recent survey revealed that about 250,000 Bantu mine workers require to be acclimatized to heat each year. Until 1965 men were acclimatized by means of one of the Chamber of Mines methods (introduced by the Human Sciences Laboratory in 1953). This type of acclimatization was carried out underground where men shovelled rock in hot stopes under careful supervision. However, it has become increasingly difficult in the last few years for mines to provide underground the conditions of work and environmental heat required for adequate acclimatization to heat. In examining an alternative to acclimatization in underground hot stopes, the Human Sciences Laboratory carried out a trial in 1965 of acclimatization in an air-conditioned climatic room on the surface of a mine. The new procedures developed from this trial have been so successful that there are today 26 climatic rooms on different mines. These rooms have been built following a design proposed by Mr Hodgson of the National Mechanical Engineering Research Institute1. Approximately 85 per cent of the total number of men being acclimatized each year are put through the new procedures in these climatic rooms. This paper gives an account of the problems which arose and how they were solved, the inter-relationship between physical conditioning and climatic room acclimatization, the prodecures developed for elimination of labourers with low maximum oxygen intakes, and the advantages of climatic room acclimatization. CLIMATIC ROOMS The majority of the climatic rooms (twenty) have been built on the surface, but a number (six) of mines preferred to establish their acclimatization centres underground in order to decrease the initial costs involved in the construction of such facilities. These underground climatic rooms are usually located near shaft stations in redundant haulages and they can accommodate from 200 to 400 labourers, thus eliminating the need for multiple acclimatization shifts. Figs. 1-4 illustrate various aspects of a surface climatic room. PROBLEMS WHICH AROSE IN INTRODUCING CLIMATIC ROOM ACCLIMATISATION There were four main problems which arose in connection with the introduction of the new method. These were: (i) The type and rate of work to be used. (ii) The air conditions required to obtain optimum acclimatization. (iii) The duration of exposure to heat each day and the total number of days of acclimatization. (iv) The methods of cooling labourers with high body temperatures. Shovelling rock would have been the desirable type of physical work to employ, but the air-conditioned space required to accommodate large numbers of men and the difficulty in standardizing the work rate in shovelling led to the decision to employ instead the work procedure used by the Human Sciences Laboratory in acclimatizing men in the Laboratory. This is the lifting of the body weight against gravity when men step on and off a bench. It has the advantage that large numbers of men can work physically at the required rate in a relatively small space (120 men can be accommodated in an area of 70 ft by 21 ft) and the cost of construction and ventilation of the climatic rooms is thereby reduced. Also the work rate can be standardized by varying the height of the stepping benches in relation to the individuals' body weights. The next problem was the air condition to be used in the climatic rooms. The Laboratory's research experience in acclimatization led it to choose an air temperature of 89°F (with the air almost saturated with water vapour) and an average velocity of air movement of 100 fpm. This air condition was combined with a work rate of 1,560 ft lb/min (oxygen consumption 1.0 litre/min) on day 1, and the work rate was increased gradually over the period of acclimatization to reach a work rate of 3,120 ft lb/min (oxygen consumption 1.6 litres/min) on day 9.
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