The mining industry has a relatively small number of electrical injuries, compared to industries such as construction or agriculture, due to the small total employment in mining. Mining does, however, have one of the highest occupational electrocution rates of any U.S. industry, at 2.8 for every 100,000 workers per year. This is approximately four times the average for all industries. Data from the Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) shows that 75 electrical fatalities occurred in the mining industry between 1990 and 1999. Of these, at least 17% involved high-reaching mobile equipment that contacted overhead power lines. Researchers at the NIOSH Pittsburgh Research Laboratory are developing an overhead electric power-line-contact alarm for mobile equipment. This work will determine whether an alarm based on current measurement can be reliable, simple to retrofit, relatively inexpensive, and, if feasible, promote its use in the workplace. Specific tasks to achieve these goals include: better defining the electrical characteristics of cranes, dump trucks, boom trucks, drill rigs, and other high-reaching equipment that can contact overhead power lines; construction and testing of a prototype overhead power-line contact alarm; promoting the commercialization of such a device; and conducting technology transfer to the private sector through labor organizations, equipment manufacturers, and publications.
NIOSH, Pittsburgh Research Laboratory, P.O. Box 18070, Pittsburgh, PA 15236