MSHA issues proposed rule on proximity detection systems

August 31, 2011

Arlington, VA – A new proposed rule (.pdf file) from the Mine Safety and Health Administration would require continuous mining machines in underground coal mines to be equipped with proximity detection systems.

Proximity detection systems can sense the presence of people or other machinery within a certain distance, and be programmed to send a warning and stop the machine to prevent contact. According to MSHA, the rule would reduce the risk of miners being crushed, pinned or struck by continuous mining machines. From 1984 to 2010, 30 miners died and 220 were injured in those types of incidents.

The proposed rule, published Aug. 31, would give mine operators 18 months from the publication date of the final rule to equip current machines, and three months to equip newly manufactured machines.

MSHA is accepting comments on the proposed rule until Nov. 14, and will host public hearings in Denver on Oct. 18; Charleston, WV, on Oct. 20; and Washington, PA, on Oct. 25.