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UMWA applauds W. Va. mine safety board for action on proximity devices

January 16, 2014
For immediate release?: 

[TRIANGLE, VA.] The United Mine Workers of America (UMWA) today voiced its support for a proposed rule by the West Virginia Board of Coal Mine Health and Safety that would mandate the installation of proximity devices on mining equipment throughout the state.

“I am pleased that West Virginia has taken this important first step in better protecting miners,” UMWA International President Cecil E. Roberts said. “Several fatalities and dozens of severe injuries a year can be prevented by proximity detection devices. West Virginia is once again leading the way for the entire nation in improving mine safety.”

The proposed rule would mandate the installation of proximity detection devices on all continuous mining machines, which are operated at the working face of a mine, within 36 months of the effective date of the rule. Proximity detection devices or cameras will be required on all other battery-powered haulage equipment underground within 36 months as well.

Upon detecting a person, the proximity detection device would sound an alarm if the person was within five feet of the machine, and automatically shut the machine off if it detected a person within a three-foot zone around the machine.

“The purpose of this rule is to save lives, and that’s what we expect it will do,” UMWA International Secretary-Treasurer Daniel J. Kane said. “I am pleased that the UMWA’s representatives to the West Virginia Coal Board were able to work with the industry representatives to get this done. It’s long past time for this technology to be put into place, and we hope the federal government will move forward on its on own rule and that other states with underground mines will follow West Virginia’s lead as soon as possible.”

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