MSHA Requires Proximity Detection Systems on Continuous Mining Machines

MSHA has issued a final rule intended to protect miners from pinning, crushing, or striking accidents caused by continuous mining machines in underground coal mines. Continuous mining machines are large, high-powered scrapers that extract coal from mines’ seams. The new rule will require mine operators to equip these machines with proximity detection systems, which use electronic sensors on both mining machines and miners to detect motion or the location of one object relative to another. Proximity detection systems can be programmed to send warning signals and stop mining machines before they injure or kill workers in underground coal mines. MSHA’s final rule establishes performance and maintenance requirements for proximity detection systems and requires training for those performing the installation and maintenance. 

According to the agency, nearly half of the approximately 863 continuous mining machines currently in operation have already been equipped with proximity detection systems. MSHA’s press release states that most of these systems will likely need only minor changes to meet the standards set in the rule.
The rule will take effect on March 16, and will be phased in over eight to 36 months. MSHA estimates that the rule will prevent 49 injuries and nine deaths over the next 10 years. For more information, visit the MSHA website.

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