The West Virginia Board of Coal Mine Health and Safety unanimously approved new safety rules requiring proximity detection systems on mobile underground mining equipment.
The rules mandate proximity detection systems within six months of the effective date on all newly purchased continuous miners and within 36 months for existing continuous miners, West Virginia Metro News reported. Additionally, cameras or proximity detection systems must be installed on scoop cars and battery-powered haulage equipment within three years.
“The Board has acted carefully and thoughtfully on the proposal,” said board administrator Joel Watts. “It will continue to work together to ensure the safety of our miners remains our number one priority.”
The board is made up of representatives of the coal industry and the United Mine Workers Union. UMWA President Cecil Roberts praised West Virginia for being the first state to adopt the safety change.
According to the UMWA, the devices will “sound an alarm if the person was within 5 ft of the machine, and automatically shut the machine off if it detected a person within a 3-ft zone around the machine.”
The U.S. Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) has been considering requiring proximity devices since 2010, and the comment period ended in November, 2012, but still no final rule has been issued.