The Davy lamp was invented by Sir Humphry Davy in 1816, allowing deep seams to be mined despite the presence of gas. It contained a candle or wick surround by a metal gauze. The metal gauze distributed the heat over a large area preventing ignition. It also provided a crude test for the presence of flammable gases, the flame burned higher with a blue tinge.
Because Mt Kembla was considered to be a non-gassy mine, these safety lamps were not used. Miners had to supply their own tools including lamps and could not afford the cost of these more sophisticated lamps. Mine Deputies did a safety check with these lamps before the start of each shift, to check for the presence of gas.
Had these safety lamps been in use by all miners on the day of the explosion in 1902, the disaster may be have been avoided.