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Mining Program Area: Machine Safety


The machine safety program develops interventions, control technologies, design guidelines, and improved hardware to reduce injuries to personnel working near machinery and mobile equipment. The goal of this program area is to eliminate machine related fatalities and injuries.

Large, powerful machinery and equipment is used across the U.S. mining sector to process thousands of tons of coal, ore, and rock on a daily basis. Because this work takes place in the poorly lit and confined work areas of underground mines and in the potentially adverse weather conditions of surface operations, mining can be a hazardous occupation. The three most common machine safety injuries involve being struck against or by a machine; being caught in, under, or between machines; and completing machine maintenance and repair. These accidents are frequently the result of poor visibility near mining equipment, machinery entanglements, slipping and tripping, operator error, and hazards associated with equipment maintenance.


Through its machine safety program, the Office of Mine Safety and Health Research (OMSHR) partners with industry to accomplish research that would not be possible for either party to accomplish alone. OMSHR facilities and personnel have unique capabilities that far exceed any other private sector mining research ability.

The machine safety program area employs both internal researchers and external contracts to efficiently accomplish its mission. Some of the program's significant accomplishments are listed below:

  • The NIOSH intelligent Proximity Detection (iPD) has been developed and successfully tested in a lab setting.
  • Researchers have determined that the presence of coal has no measureable influence on the function of proximity systems.
  • Human subjects testing of NIOSH iPD system in simulated mine environments has been completed.

Projects & Contracts

TitlePIsStart DateDescription
Applicability of Proximity Detection to Mobile Underground Coal EquipmentJacob Carr10/1/2014A project to determine whether the proximity detection systems currently available to the underground coal mining industry provide protection to miners working near mobile haulage equipment such as shuttle cars and scoops.
Assessing and Evaluating Human Systems Integration Needs in MiningJennica Bellanca10/1/2012A project to use a systems approach to characterize what information needs to be provided to mine workers, determine the timing and format of that information, and then use this information to develop alternatives to interfaces design.
Improving Situational Awareness through Visual InterventionsJohn Sammarco11/7/2014A project to reduce the risk of fatalities and serious injuries by using human visual performance data to develop specifications for visual cues and technologies that will improve situational awareness and decisionmaking during self-escape.
Intelligent Safety Technology for Mining MachineryJoseph Ducarme10/1/2010A project to investigate the implementation and integration of existing and emerging technologies in surface and underground mines to provide automatic, intelligent protections against traumatic injuries.
TitlePIsStart DateDescription
Reducing Machine Guarding-Related Injuries in MiningJonisha Pollard4/1/2014A pilot project to assess the types of injuries mine workers sustain when handling machine covers and guards and to determine the focus of future machine cover and guard redesign efforts.
TitleContractorContract/IAG #Start DateDescription
Battery TechnologyInnovative Wireless Technologies200-2014-587529/1/2014A contract to develop technology that is broadly applicable to mobile and battery-driven equipment in hazardous environments.
Development and Demonstration of a Robotic Support Vehicle for Underground Mine Rescue EffortsROHMAC, Inc.200-2014-592748/28/2014A contract to design and develop a mine rescue support machine that will increase the ability of mine rescue teams to respond to catastrophic mine events. The U.S. Government's Official Web PortalDepartment of Health and Human Services
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