Light and safety in a mine

In a coal mine, light is very important to keep miners safe while they work underground in the dark. This page explores some of the ways in which light can be used.

Lighting up the mine:

Miners once used candles to help them see underground. This was dangerous because the flame could sometimes cause explosions when it came into contact with explosive mixtures of gas underground. 

Cap lamps have been used by miners since the 1920s. They are fixed on to a miner’s helmet so that he can keep his hands free to work. Modern helmets also have reflective strips to help miners be more visible in the dark conditions underground.

Safety Lamps: 

Safety lamps were invented to protect miners from the risk of explosions. The light source is shielded from the explosive gas found underground by a gauze cylinder, hidden by the metal bonnet at the top of the lamp. 

(Download a cut-out safety lamp template and scientific investigation worksheet - also available in the downloads section) 

Reflective clothing

Donkey jacket are heavy coats which miners wear in cold weather conditions. Reflective strips on their jackets help miners to be seen in the dark. They also wear reflective vests in luminous colours to make them more visible in the dark. 


Donkey jacket - A heavy buttoned coat
Gauze - Very fine cloth
Luminous - Something that gives out or reflects light
Visible - Something that people can see

View other relevant My Learning resources or see the teachers' notes page for discussion and activity ideas. 

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