A new regulation by the US Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) will require underground coal mine operators to install continuous mining machines with proximity detection systems.

proximity detection

The move by the MSHA is part of effort to cut down potential accidents due to pinning, crushing, or striking incidents.

MSHA mine safety and health labor assistant secretary Joseph Main said: "Simply put, the proximity detection final rule will save lives and has the potential to dramatically improve the safety of mining operations.

"It already has the support of many in the mining industry."

Proximity detection technology uses electronic sensors to detect location of an object relative to another.

The systems can be configured to send signals and stop machines before they injure miners.

In addition, the sensor will prevent electrical interference and issue automated audible and visual warnings on the miner-wearable component and a visual warning on the machine.

Mine operators will be given phase-in periods of up to 36 months to receive MSHA approvals, modify continuous mining machines to meet new requirements and provide training to miners.


Image: Proximity detection technology uses electronic sensors to detect location of an object relative to another. Photo: courtesy of
Mine Safety and Health Administration.