The need to keep a safe distance between working deminers has always been recognised but there is a lot of argument about what a safe working distance actually is. Working distances should be determined during a risk assessment and can vary from site to site, or even between different parts of the same site.
Imposing too great a working distance should be avoided because it can make supervision and communication difficult and have a negative effect on site safety and efficiency.
Working distances should be determined in three categories:
- between working deminers;
- between deminers and supervisors;
- between persons conducting (or observing) a demolition and the demolition site.
These distances will vary considerably. Generally the field supervisor must be allowed to approach within a few metres of a working deminer in order to ensure that he/she is working appropriately. Generally, there is no need for anyone to be anywhere near the person conducting a demolition and distances may be extended considerably.
When working distances are ignored, more than one deminer may be injured by a single anti-personnel blast mine. More than one deminer may be killed by a fragmentation device. So the appropriate distances must be determined and enforced.