Our state is once again leading the way for the entire nation in making coal mines a safer place for workers to be while underground.
For years mining officials have been pushing to get proximity detection devices placed on mining equipment, and now that dream is finally becoming a reality starting right here in the Mountain State.
On Thursday, officials from the United Mine Workers of America voiced their support for a proposed rule by The West Virginia Board of Coal Mine Health and Safety that would approve the installation of proximity devices on all continuous mining machines, within the next two and a half years.
The biggest benefit to this, is that these devices, or cameras, would detect a person and then sound an alarm if the worker was within five feet of the machine and automatically shut it off. UMWA officials say this technology is long over due, but miners safety is always first and foremost when underground.
"The cost of this, whatever it is is well worth it because it's going to save lives, and I'm glad that the industry folks, and the union folks on the coal board have finally reached an agreement. Like I said, we have been advocating for this for years from a union stand point because its our job to protect the health and safety of coal miners," said Mike Caputo, UMWA Vice President, District-31.
Mining officials also say that several fatalities and dozens of severe injuries a year can be prevented by these proximity detection devices.