Press Archive


CHARLESTON, W.Va. – The West Virginia Board of Coal Mine Health and Safety unanimously approved a rule last week requiring proximity detection systems to improve the safety of underground coal miners. This comprehensive safety regulation is the first of its kind in the nation.

Board Administrator Joel Watts said the regulation will put West Virginia’s coal miners in a safer environment than what exists anywhere else in the world.

“West Virginia is once again at the forefront of underground mine safety and technology,” Watts said. “The Board of Coal Mine Health and Safety is committed to the safety of West Virginia’s coal miners. I am very pleased that the board met its 120-day deadline to enact this regulation. This regulation requires new training and equipment, and will result in a culture change in the state’s mining industry.” Watts also said that the board will reach out to federal partners at the Mine Safety and Health Administration to ensure all parties are on the same page.

The Board of Coal Mine Health and Safety is composed of members representing the viewpoints of the operators and labor. Its members are Chris Hamilton, WV Coal Association; Ted Hapney, United Mine Workers of America (UMWA); Terry Hudson, Patriot Coal; Carl Egnor, UMWA; Charles Russell, Arch Coal; and Gary Trout, UMWA.

Chris Hamilton, a member of the board and the executive vice president of the West Virginia Coal Association said, “The requirements embodied in this rule will serve to enhance miner safety by providing a comprehensive approach, including deployment of new mine safety technologies, additional safeguards and worker training provisions.”

“The UMWA is pleased that West Virginia has taken this important step,” said UMWA President Cecil E. Roberts. “We know that proximity detection devices can and will save lives. This rule will provide a strong foundation for continued improvements in coal miners’ safety in West Virginia, and, we hope, across the nation.”

For more information, contact Joel Watts at 304-957-2306.