Tuesday, September 8, 2015

MSHA to Propose Rule for Required Proximity Detection Systems

MSHA has announced it’s issuing a proposed regulation that would require that coal hauling machines and scoops on working section in underground coal mines be equipped with proximity detection systems. The agency reports the proposed rule would “better protect our nation’s miners from being crushed or pinned in confined underground mine spaces where large equipment is constantly in motion.” MSHA data shows that from 2010 to 2014, 41 pinning, crushing or striking incidents have been reported, and that nine of these incidents, which were fatal, could have been prevented if a proximity detection system had been in use.

Proximity detection uses electronic sensors to detect motion and the location of an object in relation to another. Proximity detection systems provide sound and visual cues that stop moving machines before miners get too close. MSHA reports that under the proposed rule, operators would have to use proximity detection systems that:
  • cause a coal-hauling machine or scoop to stop before contacting a miner;
  • provide audible and visual warning signals when a miner gets too close to the machine;
  • provide a visual signal on the machine that indicates that the system is working properly;
  • prevent machine movement if the system is malfunctioning;
  • prevent interface with or from other electrical systems;
  • be installed and maintained by someone who was trained in the system’s maintenance and installation.