Proximity Detection Zones: Designs to Prevent Fatalities Around Continuous Mining Machines
- Peter T. Bissert (National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH)) | Jacob L. Carr (National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH)) | Joseph P. DuCarme (National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH))
- Document ID
- American Society of Safety Engineers
- Professional Safety
- Publication Date
- June 2016
- Document Type
- Journal Paper
- 72 - 77
- 2016. American Society of Safety Engineers
- 0 in the last 30 days
- 26 since 2007
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- Underground coal extraction commonly utilizes remote-controlled crawler-mounted heavy equipment known as continuous mining machines that cut coal from the solid formation.
- Miners working with or near these machines are regularly exposed to the risk of serious injury from being struck or pinned.
- Based on an analysis of 39 fatalities involving continuous mining machines, it is estimated that proximity detection systems can help prevent such injuries by preventing hazardous machine movements.
- Design of proximity detection zones significantly affects the effectiveness of intelligent proximity detection systems.
Mine workers in an underground coal mine are exposed to many hazards and potential hazards on a daily basis such as unstable mine openings, coal and rock dust, high noise levels, fires and explosions, and heavy machinery. While many engineering and process controls have been established to mitigate the risks of these hazards, working with and in proximity to large, mobile equipment remains a significant risk to miner safety.
Some of the most hazardous jobs for an underground coal miner involve operating or working in the vicinity of continuous mining machines (CMMs). Since 1984, 39 miners have been killed when struck or pinned by a CMM (MSHA, 2015).
A common coal mining method in the U.S. is the room-and-pillar method, in which coal is cut and removed from the earth in a grid-like pattern of openings called entries and cross-cuts (Figure 1). CMMs (Photo 1) are used extensively in room-and-pillar mining.
CMMs feature a large cutting drum that cuts coal from the seam, gathers it into the pan, and conveys it back through the boom for haulage (Figure 2). They are typically operated by remote control, allowing the operator to remain at a safe distance from the machine when coal is being cut from the solid formation. In many cases, due to limited visibility and space, operators may work in close proximity to a CMM. This may put the operator in danger of being struck by the machine or pinned between the machine and the ribs or roof (walls or ceiling of the mine opening).
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