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MSHA: Underground Coal Mines Must Install Proximity Detection Systems
Mine operators had until March 16, 2018, to equip continuous mining machines operating in underground coal mines with proximity detection systems in accordance with recent MSHA regulations. The agency’s final rule on proximity detection systems for continuous mining machines in underground coal mines, which went into effect in March 2015, is intended to protect miners who work near the machines from pinning, crushing, or striking accidents. The March 16 deadline applies to machines manufactured and not equipped with a proximity detection system on or before March 16, 2015. MSHA’s rule provides a phase-in schedule for both newly manufactured and in-service equipment. The rule also establishes performance and maintenance requirements for proximity detection systems and requires training for individuals who perform the installation and maintenance. Full-face continuous mining machines, which are used to develop the full width of the mine entry in a single cut, generally without having to change location, are not included in the rule’s requirements. Proximity detection systems use electronic sensors on both mining machines and miners to detect motion or the location of one object relative to another, and can be programmed to send warning signals and stop mining machines before they injure or kill workers in underground coal mines. The full text of the rule is available on MSHA’s website (PDF).