CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Labor and industry representatives on a West Virginia mine safety board are working on competing proposals to curb deaths and injuries from miners being crushed or pinned by fast-moving underground mining equipment.
During a meeting Thursday in Charleston, members of the Board of Coal Mine Health and Safety asked board administrator Joel Watts to draw up at least three initiatives on the issue.
United Mine Workers union representatives on the board want to require mine operators to install "proximity detection" technology on all mobile underground equipment.
Board member Chris Hamilton, a vice president of the West Virginia Coal Association, asked for a different proposal, which would require proximity detection only for continuous-mining machines. Hamilton said he also wants to look at other measures, including reflective clothing, strobe lights and more-detailed safety examinations of mobile equipment to ensure driver visibility isn't blocked.
Additionally, board member Terry Hudson, a safety official with Patriot Coal, asked Watts to draw up a detailed "white paper" that offers every potential option for dealing with crushing and pinning accidents. Hudson said that paper would then be discussed to help board members develop a rule, rather than simply ordering mine operators to install proximity devices.
"We need a comprehensive approach to the problem -- not just sticking something on there and saying, 'That's it,'" Hudson said.
The board's request for proposed rules and a white paper renews discussions about an issue that industry members had blocked action on in early October.
It remains unclear, though, if board members -- gubernatorial appointees split 3-3 between industry and labor -- will be able to reach agreement on any sort of rule.