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Tramming top danger

A MSHA report into remote control fatal accidents involving continuous miners has shown tramming to a new location the most dangerous work function followed by performing maintenance.

Angie Tomlinson
Tramming top danger

The study looked at 21 remote control-related fatal accidents that had occurred since December 1988 in U.S. mines. Tramming to a new location was responsible for 16 of the 21 fatalities, while maintenance related activity was accountable for five of the 21. Only one fatality occurred during the actual mining process.

The report found the machine operator was most at risk and most pinning and crushing accidents occurred on the right rear machine corner. Five involved the conveyor boom.

Of the five fatalities involving the cutter head, three occurred while performing maintenance and two while tramming.

The report said poor work practices was a contributing factor in all of the accidents.

“The high incidence of poor work practices in the fatal accidents also highlights the

dangers associated with the psychological detachment from the machine and

complacency that develops in the minds of the operators with the use of remote control technology. Because of these factors, established work practices and training alone are not sufficient to prevent the type of accidents that have occurred,” the report said.

Several safety features have been developed on remote-controlled machines which mines can use to increase the safety of its workers. One feature which may have merit in preventing the type of accidents that have occurred, is personnel proximity protection. This feature provides automatic proximity detection and machine shutdown to protect personnel from being run over, crushed or pinned when they are inadvertently positioned in a hazardous area in close proximity to the machine.

It is estimated that the use of proximity protection with machine shutdown could have been a preventative factor in 18 of the 21 fatal. The technology for personnel proximity protection currently exists and its development and use on remote controlled mining machinery needs to be pursued, the report said.

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