In the coal mining industry the leading cause of fatalities, traditionally, has been falls of ground, but this situation is changing due to the tremendous efforts made in providing greater safety by better equipment, improved techniques, and focused training. Accidents caused by moving machinery are now of concern and are receiving considerable attention.
Today, mine operators are requesting approval to use extended cuts or deep cut mining using remotely controlled continuous miners equipped with scrubbers or fan spray systems. Production increases are realized through continuous miner place change reduction because the mining machine stays longer in each working face. Remote control mining, which was introduced for good reason, however brings with it additional safety challenges.
This month’s Coal Leader examines the hazards associated with remote control mining. First on page 7 is a description of a presentation Safety Issues Associated with Under-ground Remote Control Mining by MSHA. Second, on page 3B is a description of a presentation Remote Control Processed Evolution: A Human Factor’s Perspective, by NIOSH. Both of these presentations were given to the underground remote control mining safety session of the joint meeting of the Pittsburgh Coal Mining Institute of America and SME Pittsburgh Section.
The third article Proximity Protection on pages 4B-5B describes an MSHA presentation given to the West Virginia Mine Safety Innovation Conference held in Morgantown, West Virginia. This is an exceedingly important development for the coal mining industry. Proximity Protection is a safety system providing automatic proximity detection and machine shutdown when personnel are positioned in a hazardous area close to a continuous mining machine. As the need for increased machine production increases, machine speeds get faster and the hazards associated with moving machinery are increasing.
The early underground trials with Proximity Protection were encouraging and the system is being modified before it is reintroduced underground. Proximity protection is an exceedingly important development, which may eventually be applied to all rubber tired equipment to provide greater safety for all those working underground and on the surface.
Coal Leader applauds the efforts of all those associated with the Proximity Protection project and will keep its readers informed of progress as the system is further developed and as additional underground trials take place.
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