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ISO Standard Confirmed to Aid in Chilean Mine Rescue

In the recent Chilean mine rescue operation that captured the world's attention for sixty-eight days, a standard from the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) played a significant role in bringing all thirty-three miners safely to the surface.

After more than two months trapped underground, the miners were carried one by one to safety on October 13 up a narrow, nearly half-mile-long shaft in a capsule specially designed by NASA and the Chilean navy. According to J.D. Polk, chief of space medicine at NASA's Johnson Space Center, ISO 18738:2003, Lift (elevators) - Measurement of lift ride quality, helped the rescuers to calculate the capsule's optimal rate of acceleration along the roughly 2,000 foot ascent.

Known as Phoenix, the capsule was lowered deep into the mine, just forty feet short of the shaft bottom that had been the miners' refuge since the August 5 collapse. The final phase of the rescue effort spanned nearly twenty-two hours, with each miner taking a twisting, twenty-minute ride to the surface.

ISO 18738 defines performance parameters integral to the evaluation of lift ride quality, addressing aspects such as jerk and acceleration. The standard is one of twenty-six International Standards developed by ISO technical committee ISO/TC 178, Lifts, escalators and moving walks.

"The content of most ISO standards is technical, but the Chilean example is an exemplary reminder that ISO standards are developed by people to help solve problems for people," noted ISO Secretary-General Rob Steele. "In helping to reduce discomfort and suffering for miners already sorely tested by more than two months underground, it's a significant people-focused contribution."

The United States is an active participant in the development of International Standards for lifts, escalators, and moving walks. The American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) is the ANSI-accredited U.S. Technical Advisory Group (TAG) Administrator to ISO/TC 178, carrying U.S. positions forward to the committee.


Jana Zabinski

Senior Director, Communications & Public Relations


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Beth Goodbaum

Journalist/Communications Specialist


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