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The Mechanical and Engineering Safety Division have three principle missions. The first is to evaluate mining equipment for compliance with specific approval standards. The second is to carry out investigations of accidents involving the mechanical aspects of mining equipment, explosives, and fire suppression devices. The third is to provide technical assistance to other MSHA personnel, mine operators, and industry groups in the areas of mechanical safety, explosives, and fire suppression.

Diesel-powered equipment, diesel engines, and related safety components are evaluated under Parts 7 and 36 of Title 30, Code of Federal Regulations. We not only evaluate the mechanical aspects of permissible diesel-powered equipment including the hydraulic and pneumatic systems, operator compartments, braking and steering systems, panic bars, etc. but we also maintain a state-of-the-art diesel emissions laboratory to evaluate both gaseous and particulate emissions from diesel engines. The performance of roof drill dust collector systems is evaluated under Part 33. Equipment evaluations are accomplished through a series of complex technical in-house and field investigations; performance testing of material, equipment, and components; and the review of plans, drawings, and specifications submitted by manufacturers.

Accident investigations are performed in both surface and underground areas of and coal mines and metal and nonmetal mines. Division personnel serve as expert members of a team assembled from enforcement personnel, Education and Training, and Technical Support representatives. We have investigated accidents involving braking systems, steering systems and hydraulic systems of large surface haulage vehicles and loading equipment.. We have also investigated a variety of accidents involving wire rope, explosives, fire suppression devices, process piping, pressure vessels, mine pneumatic systems, and rail equipment. Generally speaking, any accident involving the mechanical aspects of mining equipment, explosives, or fire suppression devices is a candidate for investigation by the Division.

The technical assistance the Division provides covers a wide range of activities. We develop, update, and implement new approval criteria, regulations, and test procedures involving mechanical safety. The Division provides expertise and guidance in monitoring research contracts addressing diesel-powered equipment and roof drill dust collector systems. Upon request by MSHA enforcement personnel or mine operators, the Division performs field and laboratory evaluations to determine the safety of machines, wire ropes, explosives, fire suppression devices, and many other mechanical systems. We also develop and provide training courses to other MSHA personnel and mine operators in areas involving mechanical safety. Finally, we participate in a wide range of technical organizations, such as the Society of Automotive Engineers, the American Society of Testing and Materials, the International Society of Explosive Engineers, and the American Welding Society to promote mine safety through the development of industry standards and training courses.

In carrying out its mission, the Division responds to requests from manufacturers, mine operators, MSHA, and other federal and state agencies where expert knowledge and experience are needed in applying regulations and improving the mechanical safety of mining equipment and components.

For more information about the Mechanical and Engineering Safety Division, please contact us at 304-547-0400
or zzMSHA-TecSupACCM&ESDChiefGroup@dol.gov.