The tool being used is inappropriate for delicate work.
examples are the larger digging tools already seen.
The deminer is working too quickly or without appropriate
may be pressed to work quickly, sometimes he is racing
his friends, or he may simply be bored.
The deminer or detector failed to position the reading
detector may have been a metal detector or a dog. A dog's
signal is usually checked with a metal-detector because
dogs are rarely able to be precise.
The mine is very sensitive or on its side.
mines may be damaged over time and become very sensitive.
A few items of UXO can be ultra-sensitive. A mine on its
side can mean that a deminer is working absolutely correctly
and still initiates it.
There are roots over a mine and pressure in a safe place
pulls the roots.
root carpet frequently spreads over mines in tropical
picture above shows two M14 US mines in Cambodia. You can see
fine roots in the alluvial soil around them. One of the mines
is on its side
with the pressure plate pointing towards the prod.
user's hand is too close.
4" (10cm), the blast forces from a PMN can strip the flesh
from a hand. If the tool is designed for another use,
such as a cementing trowel, the users hand may be positioned
alongside the blade rather than behind it.
other hand is being used as a guide - and is too close.
short tool also brings the user's body very close to any
is leaning over the excavation.
a tool is used two-handed, the deminer is more likely
to be leaning over the detonation.
tool breaks up and parts hit him.
have lost arms when parts of their tool has severely damaged
the upper arm (and have died as a result). They have had
deep chest penetrations from parts of the tool and its
handle. Other parts have hit deminers in the face, throat,
abdomen and thighs.
is not wearing eye protection, or not wearing it correctly.
wearing of a visor is by no means universal. Even when
a visor is issued, it is often worn raised because the
user cannot see through it clearly because the material
is easily scratched.
stands or kneels on a missed-mine as he excavates.
injuries that result from kneeling on a mine or standing
on it while in a crouching position can be fatal.
Anti-personnel blast mines can
cause horrendous injuries, but they very rarely kill deminers.
However, some of the injuries are so disabling that the Victim
may die later as an indirect result.
hand and arm injury is far too common. The blast forces can
strip the flesh from the bone.
that deminers are usually relatively unsophisticated and uneducated
people. Without their hands they have little chance of being
employed. In Moslem countries, the loss of a hand carries another
stigma and is greatly feared.
palm of this Afghan deminer's hand was saved simply in order
to avoid making him a social leper.
second most common severely disabling injury in demining is
matter how small the device, if a deminer detonates it without
eye protection, he has a very high chance of being blinded.
A grain of sand that would not even leave a scar if it hit the
victim on the cheek, will pass through an eye and do permanent
black speckling on this man's face is often called a "carbide
tattoo" because it used to occur when muskets or rifles backfired.
It is not carbide but hot soot - which is half burnt TNT, mine
casing, earth etc.
are two approaches to reducing injury - the first is to stop
the accident occurring by using improved procedures, supervision and training.
The second is to develop tools and PPE that make it less likely
that injury will occur in an accident.
can be designed so that it is easiest to use them in a
manner than reduces the risk of initiating a mine.
can also be designed to reduce the risk of the tool itself
causing injury if an accident occurs.
requirements can coincide. For example, a long tool is hard
to use to dig vertically when on your knees - and it also puts
the user's hand at a distance from any explosion.
are several examples of locally made tools and a few specialist
probes where the blade is stored in the handle shown in presentation
5: Demining hand-tools
. These were usually designed for a military market.
designed" is not necessarily safer.
This is a specialist pistol prod - the titanium blade
is held in jaws like a drill-bit in a chuck. Brittle materials
and a design than can separate mean that it was designed to
look "sexy", not to be safe or even comfortable to
use for long periods. The short length means that the user's
hand is too close, and makes it easier to prod the ground at
a steep angle.
made tools can be far more appropriate than expensive imports.
This is a locally made mild-steel prod used in Bosnia.
The picture shows it after an accident with one of the very
small AP blast mines prevalent in the Balkans. The handle is
a hard plastic. The blade is apparently mild steel and is slightly
bent. The safety is enhanced because it has a long blade and
the blade passes through the handle - so the tool did not separate.
The "safety" element may have been unintentional because the
hard handle could have shattered.
prodding/excavation tool was made by a demining group in Afghanistan
when they found bayonets were hard to source. (The Taliban had
prohibited the sale of all weapons.) Its length makes it easier
to use at a shallow angle than the AK bayonet alternative.
is the same kind of replacement for a bayonet - shown with an
example that was involved in an accident - and the remains of
an AK bayonet after an accident.
The Afghan tool is almost a very safe design, with a
long blade, a handguard made using the side-wall of a car tyre
and a bicycle handlebar grip over a wooden handle to improve
comfort. Unfortunately, it separates in a blast. But
the blade bent and the handle did not shatter - unlike the handle
of the AK bayonet that shattered into fragments. Fragments
of hard plastic handles have penetrated several centimetres
into the user's chest.
improve the Afghan probe, all that was needed was for the handle
and blade to be fixed together so that they could not separate.
that shatter or separate
Almost all of the commonly used tools will shatter or separate
in a blast. The condition of the tools is not always photographed
after an accident. Here are a few examples, mostly taken by
is a typical African hoe - variations on which are used around
the world. Europeans may know them as a "mattock".
One famous demining group calls them "long trowels" in their
accident reports. The heads have separated and killed a deminer,
and the shaft splinters have caused severe injury.
is the type of "long trowel" that the same demining group have
used in the Balkans. The photograph was taken after an accident.
The handle of the mattock that was used is shown in splinters above
an intact example. The wooden handle is dangerous even when
the tool stays intact. The user's hand was severely injured
in this accident.
accidents with pick-axes or mattocks are probably caused by the
user failing to pinpoint a detector reading properly. Some have
occurred when metal-detectors have not been used and the entire
ground surface has been excavated. In general, the use of any two-handed
swinging tool invites imprecision.
was an ordinary garden trowel - often used around the world.
The user of this trowel lost several fingers. The mangled head
of the trowel was discovered inside his thigh when he
arrived at hospital several hours after the accident.
user of this mild steel trowel lost a finger - with a very small
AP blast mine.
is the same kind of trowel. Locally made, each purchase differed
and the welding on this example was poor. The two parts of this
trowel have been placed together for the photograph. The trowel
blade hit the user in the face, side-on. He was not wearing
a visor. His face was cut in half. He died later in
handle of these shears was torn away when he initiated a mine.
The mine was a bounding fragmentation mine and the victim died. It was not recorded whether damage was done to his hands.
More broken shears - notice that they broke at the weak point
where the metal stopped going through the handle.
after a blast. The handles are cast aluminium so break easily.
tool designs can be improved for demining purposes - and I have
proved that this can be done without incurring prohibitive costs.
is what my first design of needle probe looked like after detonating
a mine in a genuine accident. The handle is shatterproof MDPE.
The blade is E304 stainless steel which bends in an AP detonation
without the tip breaking away. The tool is also too long to
turn-around and impale the user.
AVS designs of tool are shown at AVS