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Guidelines - Use of Probes - Section 212 (6)

Section 212(6) Approved gas detection devices are used.

Guidelines for the use of probes in combination with digital methane detectors to be used for methane examinations for mining depths up to 40 feet.

These guidelines consolidate the previously issued guidelines and shall supercede all previously issued guidelines for use of probe systems with digital methane detectors.

These guidelines are for the use of State approved digital methane detectors on extensible probes. The extensible probes can be used to test for methane at distances up to 40 feet.

  1. A plan (4 copies) that meets the intent of these guidelines must be submitted to the District Mine Inspector in writing before any probe-based system is put into actual use. Such plan shall include a drawing of the proposed probe and identification of the electronic digital methane detector to be used. The equipment used in the probe-based system must be designed for ease of operation by one (1) person and within a reasonable time period. After the District Mine Inspector has observed the probe system in operation and verifies the intent of these guidelines will be met, the plan may be approved for use.
  2. The digital methane detector to be used must be State approved, and must have numbers which are easily discernible at the maximum depth of cut. (For cuts of 20 feet or less in depth, the minimum effective LED height is 1 ¼ inches when using a magnifying lens. For cut depths greater than 20 feet, the minimum effective LED size is 2” high and 1-5/16” wide.) The methane detector must have a positive indication of low voltage and instrument malfunction.
  3. The digital methane detector and all equipment used in conjunction with the probe must be maintained in good working order at all times, and shall be handled as a life-saving device.
  4. A digital methane detector shall be used for only one (1) operating shift. It must then be checked for proper functioning, sufficient charge, and re-checked with methane, and any necessary adjustments made before being returned for use. When transporting the methane detector, it shall be in as safe a manner as is practical. A record shall be kept noting the serial number of the instrument, any malfunction detected, the nature of any repairs, any adjustments to the calibration and the record shall identify the person performing the checks and repairs. Checks for proper functioning and calibration shall be performed in accordance with the methods described in the manufacturer's instruction manual for the instrument in use.
  5. The probe system must be adaptable to a variety of circumstances that could be reasonably expected in the active mining environment, such as equipment, spillage, roof cavities, or other obstructions in the area where the examination is to be performed. The probe shall be constructed of aluminum, fiberglass, or other non-sparking material. The probe must include a feature that assures the methane detector is properly positioned relative to the roof, face, and rib in order to test for methane according to the Act. The length of the probe must be at least 4 feet longer than the maximum depth of cut to enable the user to be under or outby the second full row of permanent roof supports.
  6. (For probes over 24 feet in length) An intermediate support or other means must be provided to stabilize the probe as it is extended, to avoid damage to the instrument due to impact with the roof, floor, ribs, or exposure to water on the mine floor, as well as to prevent the unwieldy nature of the probe from interfering with effective testing or distracting the person making the test into an unsafe position.
  7. The Bureau of Mine Safety through the District Mine Inspector, shall be provided with documented proof that any person designated as a repairman for the digital methane detectors has been trained in the repair and maintenance of the instrument, and has demonstrated competence in the calibration of the instrument. All repairs and maintenance shall be performed only by persons so designated, or by returning the instruments to the manufacturer.
  8. All persons required to use the probe shall be thoroughly instructed and trained in its use. The Bureau of Mine Safety, through the District Mine Inspector, shall be provided with documented proof that every operator of the digital methane detector has been properly trained in the use of the instrument, and has properly demonstrated the ability to use it proficiently and to detect malfunctions.
  9. Prior to moving any electrically operated face equipment inby the last open crosscut, the entire working place up to the last row of permanent roof supports shall be tested for gas with an approved flame safety lamp or a digital methane detector. If the last permanent support, in compliance with the approved plan, is more than four (4) feet from the face, the test shall be made from under or outby the second full row of permanent roof supports using the digital methane detector extended by probe to not less than twelve (12) inches from the roof, face, and ribs.
  10. If the electrically-operated face equipment remains in a particular working place in excess of twenty (20) minutes, an additional examination for methane gas shall be made as described in #9 above, and at each twenty (20) minute interval thereafter. Such examinations shall be made more often if necessary to assure the safety of personnel and property.
  11. For mining plans that require sequential lifts to be made in the working place; when the first lift is completed and the mining machine is pulled from the face and a 20-minute gas test was not made while mining that lift, an additional gas check shall be made at the evacuated face using the digital methane detector and probe before the next lift is started.
  12. In the event of a malfunction of the digital methane detector in Nos. 9, 10, or 11 above, a replacement instrument shall be immediately secured and used as required by Nos. 9, 10, and 11.
  13. The approved Roof Control Plan in force shall be strictly adhered to at all times.
  14. Methods of ventilating the faces while using a probe-based system for methane examinations must be submitted to the District Mine Inspector. It is the responsibility of the Mine Foreman to see that the ventilation requirements are met in accordance with the Bituminous Coal Mining Laws of Pennsylvania.
  15. Mine management shall be fully responsible for implementation of and compliance with all of the foregoing conditions and requirement.
  16. The electrical face equipment operator shall have in his possession an approved digital methane detector.