Proximity Detection Systems for Mobile Machines in Underground Coal Mines

Battery powered scoop

MSHA is proposing to require that underground coal mine operators equip coal hauling machines and scoops on working sections with proximity detection systems according to a phase-in schedule for newly manufactured and existing equipment.  The proposed requirements would strengthen protections for miners by reducing the potential for pinning, crushing, or striking injuries to miners who work near these machines.  MSHA is also interested in the application of these proposed requirements to underground metal and nonmetal mines.

From 1984 through 2014, 42 fatal and 179 non-fatal pinning, crushing, or striking injuries occurred in underground coal mines that may have been prevented by the use of proximity detection systems on coal hauling machines and scoops. More recently, from 2010 through 2014, 41 pinning, crushing, or striking accidents involving coal hauling machines and scoops have been reported: 23 that involved coal hauling machines and 18 that involved scoops. Nine of these accidents involved fatalities that may have been prevented by the use of proximity detection systems. For example, on December 16, 2014, at the Highland 9 Mine, a repairman was killed when struck by a ram car.

Proximity detection systems consist of machine-mounted components and, if applicable, miner-wearable components.  For proximity detection systems with miner-wearable components, the mine operator would be required to provide a miner-wearable component to be worn by each miner on the working section.  The proposed rule would establish performance and maintenance requirements for proximity detection systems and would require training for persons performing the installation and maintenance. 

MSHA published a final rule on Proximity Detection Systems for Continuous Mining Machines on January 15, 2015.