The proposal, formally known as “Proximity Detection System for Mobile Machines in Underground Coal Mines,” was released September 2, would require all mines to use proximity systems on all haulage equipment, including shuttle cars, ram cars and scoops.

The first gathering has been set for October 6 at the Embassy Suites Downtown/Convention Center in Denver, Colorado. A second has been scheduled in Birmingham, Alabama, on October 8 at the Sheraton Birmingham/Jefferson Convention Complex.

On October 19, MSHA will compile public comments at the National Mine Health and Safety Academy in Beaver, West Virginia; a final event will be held in Indianapolis, Indiana, on October 29 at the Indianapolis Marriott Downtown.

All of the hearings begin at 9 a.m. local time.

A written comment period also remains open, with the agency accepting input until December 1.

MSHA said in its proposal release earlier this month that, coal mine operators will be required to use proximity systems that cause a coal-hauling machine or scoop to stop before contacting a miner; provide audible and visual warning signals when a miner gets too close to the machine (within the machine’s warning zone); provide a visual signal on the machine that indicates the system is functioning properly; prevent movement of the machine if the system is not functioning properly; prevent interference with or from other electrical systems; and be installed and maintained by a person trained in the system’s installation and maintenance.

If placed into effect, it would be effective in phases. According to MSHA’s proposal, mines will have eight months after the rule goes into effect to be in compliance for coal-hauling machines and scoops manufactured after the effective date of the rule (also for coal-hauling machines and scoops equipped with an existing proximity detection system).

Coal hauling machines and scoops equipped with an existing proximity detection system — which cannot be modified underground or needs to be replaced with a new proximity detection system — or those units manufactured on or before the effective date of the rule and not equipped with a proximity detection system must be in compliance within three years after the rule’s effective date.