If the Technology Fits: an Evaluation of Mobile Proximity Detection Systems in Underground Coal Mines

  • LaTasha R. SwansonEmail author
  • Jennica L. Bellanca


Proximity detection systems (PDSs) for mobile machines have the potential to decrease injuries and fatalities. Early adopters of the technology have identified some challenges, which present an opportunity to explore and improve the integration of mobile PDSs in underground coal mines. The current research study applied the task-technology fit framework to investigate the fit between mobile PDS technology and mining relative to health and safety, from the perspective of leaders at two coal mines. Quantitative results from the study show that mine leaders evaluated mobile PDS favorably for training and ease of use, system feedback, user authorization and experience, and less favorably for safety, compatibility, task completion, and reliability. Qualitative results reveal specific task, mine, and system characteristics that may have influenced leaders’ evaluations. The study includes considerations and suggestions for safe technology integration.


Occupational safety Coal mining Proximity detection Task-technology fit Automation 



The authors would like to thank the mine leaders that participated in this study for their time and commitment to health and safety. The authors would also like to thank Justin Helton, a former NIOSH mining engineer, for his contributions to the study.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


The findings and conclusions in this paper are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the official position of the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Mention of any company or product does not constitute endorsement by NIOSH.


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Copyright information

© This is a U.S. government work and its text is not subject to copyright protection in the United States; however, its text may be subject to foreign copyright protection 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Pittsburgh Mining Research DivisionNational Institute for Occupational Safety and HealthPittsburghUSA

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