The regulation requires new training and equipment, and will result in a culture change in the state’s mining industry, Watts said.
An initial proposal for the rule indicated the rule would include a requirement for proximity detection devices on all new place-change continuous miners within six months of passage, along with placement on all rebuild machines within a year. Additionally, placement of proximity devices or cameras on scoops and battery-powered haulage equipment would be mandated within three years.
The board will now meet with federal partners at the Mine Safety and Health Administration to ensure both sides are working together.
Watts noted that the regulation will put West Virginia’s coal miners in a safer environment than what exists anywhere else in the world.
“West Virginia is once again at the forefront of underground mine safety and technology,” he said, noting that the group is committed to the safety of West Virginias coal miners. “I am very pleased that the board met its 120-day deadline to enact this regulation.”
The Board of Coal Mine Health and Safety is composed of members representing the viewpoints of the operators and labor, including Chris Hamilton of the West Virginia Coal Association; Ted Hapney of the United Mine Workers of America (UMWA); Terry Hudson of Patriot Coal; Carl Egnor of the UMWA; Charles Russell of Arch Coal; and Gary Trout of the UMWA.
“The requirements embodied in this rule will serve to enhance miner safety by providing a comprehensive approach, including deployment of new mine safety technologies, additional safeguards and worker training provisions,” Hamilton said.