International Standard plays role in rescue of trapped Chilean miners

Issue 22 – November 2010

An ISO Standard has played a role in making the ride to the surface of the 33 trapped Chilean miners as safe and comfortable as possible.

The miners were winched to the surface one by one along a 624-m shaft in the 'Phoenix' capsule. A senior official of the USA's National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) has said that an ISO Standard was used as input in calculating the optimal rate of acceleration of the capsule in order to ensure its smooth ascent and avoid discomfort to the miners.

JD Polk, Chief of Space Medicine at NASA's Johnson Space Center, revealed the role of the ISO Standard in an interview on BBC's Radio 4 on Wednesday morning, 13 October 2010. He had been advising the Chilean authorities on how to keep the miners in good physical and mental health during their confinement underground and how to prepare them for the ordeal of being brought to the surface in the cramped space of the Phoenix capsule.

A NASA spokesperson confirmed to ISO that the Standard used was Lift (elevators) – Measurement of lift ride quality ISO 18738:2003. The spokesperson told ISO that ISO 18738 provided a starting point, or benchmark, explaining: 'The escape pod and the travel up and down the shaft is not exactly an elevator. But they wanted to see what were the nominal Standards with regard to acceleration of lifts, and then they could modify that on their own to account for the conditions of the mine tunnel and based on the health assessments and tolerance of the miners.'

Parameters addressed in the Standard include jerk and acceleration. ISO 18738 is one of 26 ISO international Standards developed by ISO technical committee 178 (ISO/TC 178) 'Lifts, escalators, and moving walks'.

Related Standards

  • ISO/TR 25743:2010 Lifts (elevators) – Study of the use of lifts for evacuation during an emergency
  • ISO 4190-1:2010 Lift (Elevator) installation – Part 1: Class I, II, III and VI lifts
  • ISO/TS 22559-2:2010 Safety requirements for lifts (elevators) – Part 2: Safety parameters meeting the global essential safety requirements (GESRs)
  • ISO 22199:2009 Electromagnetic compatibility – Product family standard for lifts, escalators and moving walks – Emission
  • ISO 14798:2009 Lifts (elevators), escalators and moving walks – Risk assessment and reduction methodology
  • ISO 22200:2009 Electromagnetic compatibility – Product family standard for lifts, escalators and moving walks – Immunity
  • ISO 22201:2009 Lifts (elevators) – Design and development of programmable electronic systems in safety-related applications for lifts (PESSRAL)
  • ISO/TR 25741:2008 Lifts and escalators subject to seismic conditions – Compilation report
  • ISO 7465:2007 Passenger lifts and service lifts – Guide rails for lift cars and counterweights – T-type
  • ISO/TR 11071-2:2006 Comparison of worldwide lift safety standards – Part 2: Hydraulic lifts (elevators)
  • ISO 4190-5:2006 Lift (Elevator) installation – Part 5: Control devices, signals and additional fittings

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Summarised from an ISO media release 14 October 2010.

Published in international.