In West Virginia, state mine safety officials at one point planned to move to require proximity detection systems ahead of any federal mandate.
Back in June 2008, the state's Mine Safety Technology Task Force planned to have a draft regulation ready by January 2009 so it could become effective by June 2009, according to meeting minutes and other records obtained under the Freedom of Information Act.
"The task force would like to come up with a regulation before federal requirements are proposed on proximity devices," said the minutes, from a June 18-19 meeting in Charleston.
Three months later, in a Sept. 7, 2008, memo, four top state mine inspectors recommended specific language that would have given mine operators a year to install proximity detection systems.
"It is our belief that the use of a device, such as the proximity warning system, will be necessary if we are to ever eliminate injuries of this type," the memo said.
But the task force, a group from industry, labor and academia charged with reviewing new mining technologies and recommending them to regulators and the industry, never issued a formal recommendation to the mine safety board. Also, the board never acted on its own to require proximity detection systems.
Reach Ken Ward Jr. at kw...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-1702.