Call for more proximity protection

FEDERAL officials are again spotlighting proximity protection systems after a miner was killed late last month in southern West Virginia.
Call for more proximity protection Call for more proximity protection Call for more proximity protection Call for more proximity protection Call for more proximity protection


Donna Schmidt

Scoop operator Gregory Byers, 43, died on July 31 at the ICG Beckley Pocahontas underground operation in Raleigh County after being crushed by a battery-powered scoop while trying to charge its batteries.

“The scoop was parked at a battery-charging station located four crosscuts from the working section when it was impacted by another scoop, which was traveling adjacent to the charging station,” the US Mine Safety and Health Administration said on Friday in its preliminary report.

To help prevent similar accidents at other mines, the agency released its best practices policy, which included the installation of proximity detection systems on continuous mining machines and underground haulage equipment.

Additionally, investigators stressed the use of audible warnings by equipment operators when traveling around turns or blind spots, through ventilation curtains, and when the operator's visibility was obstructed. It advised workers to look out for moving equipment and exercise caution in areas where clearance was tight and visibility limited.

It said the installation of warning signs was also important to a safe mine, as was the use of reflective material and proper signage.

The MSHA said it was vital that equipment operators established good communications between themselves and other miners who may be working near their equipment.

The ICG Beckley Pocahontas room and pillar mine is owned by Arch Coal.

Byers’ death was the 13th coal fatality in the US in 2012, and the second fatality classified as powered haulage. It was also the fourth in West Virginia this year, and the second in a five-day period.

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