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.