MSHA puts out proximity detection call

FEDERAL officials have asked the mining community for more information on the capabilities and applications of proximity detection systems.

Donna Schmidt

“Specifically, the agency is requesting information from the mining community to help determine whether the use of proximity detection systems would reduce injuries and fatalities from accidents where a remote-controlled continuous miner (RCCM) pins, crushes or strikes miners in underground mines,” the US Mine Safety and Health Administration said.

Details are also being sought on the application of proximity detection technology to underground equipment other than RCCMs and whether it would reduce the risk of accidents, as well as any other information MSHA might find helpful.

"This technology offers a means to maintaining a safe working environment and preventing injuries to miners when operating remote-controlled machinery," assistant secretary of labor for coal mine safety and health Joseph Main said.

"MSHA hopes to gather information and comments from the mining community to help us determine whether the use of these systems will be effective in preventing accidents and reducing injuries and the benefits of any suggested regulatory action."

Comments must be submitted to MSHA by April 2, 2010.

Since 1983, 31 workers have died in underground accidents that involved remote-controlled continuous mining machines.

About 95% of the 1200 continuous miners used in underground operations are remote-controlled.

To date, the agency said, it has approved three systems for use in underground gassy mines.