Can wireless technology save miners' lives in future accidents? The U.S. Department of Labor's Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) is looking "aggressively" into the possibilities. MSHA announced they are testing a personal emergency device and a locator system for underground mines. CONSOL Energy and Peabody Coal Company are testing the systems, Government Technology reports.
The PED was developed in Australia by Mine Site Technologies. The system uses either a surface- or an underground-powered loop which radiates a radio frequency signal enabling one-way communication to underground. The system dims and flashes a miner's cap lamp for about 10 seconds, then sends a text message to the wearer. Individual, group or broadcast messages can be sent.
MSHA is currently surveying underground mines around the U.S. that use the PED to determine its effectiveness and discuss operational issues that have arisen in different mine environments. Of particular concern are the issues created by the underground antenna loop and the need to withdraw power in the event of a fire or explosion.