New federal rule requiring sensors on coal-digging machines seeks to reduce deaths

EnergyAssociated Press

Federal mine safety officials have issued a new rule aimed at reducing crushing and pinning deaths caused by mining machinery.

The rule requires coal-digging machines called continuous miners to be fitted with a sensor system that can shut off the digger if a miner gets too close.

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U.S. Assistant Labor Secretary Joe Main visited a mine in southern Indiana on Tuesday to see a demonstration of the safety technology, which is called a proximity detector. The detectors are already in use at the Alliance Resource Partners Gibson North mine that Main visited.

The U.S. Mine Safety and Health Administration says 35 miners have been crushed or pinned to death by the mining machines since 1984. The new rule takes effect March 16.