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New Federal Rule Requires Mining Companies to Put Proximity Detectors on Machines for Safety

Office of Mine Safety and Licensing

In a new rule issued this week, the Mine Safety and Health Administration is requiring underground coal mines to equip their continuous mining machines with proximity detectors

The technology shuts off the equipment if a worker gets too close. Kentucky Coal Association President Bill Bissett says the Alliance owned company called Matrix has developed the technology. He says many Alliance mines, which make up a third of those in Kentucky, already have proximity detectors.

“It is anymore a fairly common sight, you know, along with the methane detectors,: said Bissett.  "When you’re underground you often see them now.”

Mine operators will have up to 36 months to retrofit their continuous mining machines and train employees to use them. The rule goes into the Federal Register January 15th and becomes effective 60 days later.

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