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MSHA aims to revise standards for electric motor-powered mine equipment, accessories

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Arlington, VA — A recently proposed rule from the Mine Safety and Health Administration would revise testing, evaluation and approval regulations for mine equipment and accessories powered by electric motors intended for use in environments with gases.

The proposed rule, published in the Nov. 19 Federal Register, would establish a one-year transition period in which mine operators may use equipment and accessories that satisfy either 14 voluntary consensus standards or the existing MSHA approval requirements.

Mine operators would thereafter be required to “use the consensus standards for equipment and accessories covered by consensus standards,” a Nov. 18 agency press release states. MSHA contends the proposal is aimed at promoting the use of advanced technologies that will foster improved mine safety and health, as well as enhance the efficiency and effectiveness of the agency’s approval process.

“MSHA believes that a 12-month transition period will provide manufacturers, approval holders and applicants enough time to make design and build changes necessary to meet the required specifications of the VCS for new applications,” the proposed rule states.

The American National Standards Institute, the International Electrotechnical Commission, the International Society of Automation and UL LLC developed the VCS outlined in the proposed rule, which covers equipment such as:

  • Portable two-way radios
  • Remote control units for mining machinery
  • Longwall mining systems
  • Portable oxygen detectors
  • Miner-wearable components for proximity detection systems
  • Powered air-purifying respirators

The National Mining Association supports the proposed rule.

 

“The industry has long advocated for updates to the standards, which limit companies’ ability to use the latest available technologies to create safer mine environments,” NMA President and CEO Rich Nolan said in a Nov. 18 press release. “Current standards have resulted in a backlog of superior technologies awaiting MSHA approvals, even as those technologies are being used successfully in mines elsewhere around the world or by other occupations in the U.S.

“The proposed updates will allow us to provide the best available protection for miners through a more efficient and effective process. Put simply, this translates into people being safer sooner.”

Comments are due Dec. 21.

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