MSHA Mine Product Approvals Speeded by Independent Test Labs

Electrical products destined for hazardous work locations are required in the U.S. to be product safety certified to NRTL requirements.  However, for products destined for use in explosive gas and dust atmospheres of a U.S. underground mine, NRTL safety certification is not sufficient – Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) approval is required.

Cue the long groan.  MSHA, like most U.S. government agencies, is understaffed and overworked, leading to long approval delays.

But there are options.  Under MSHA’s Subchapter B – Testing, Evaluation, and Approval of Mining Products, Part 6, the U.S. Department of Labor agency has created guidelines for the testing and evaluation of mine equipment by independent laboratories and non-MSHA product safety standards.

This program applies to these product categories:

  • Battery Powered Mobile Machines
  • Batteries for Mobile Machines
  • X/P Connection Boxes/Enclosures
  • X/P Plug and Receptacles/Connectors
  • Diesel Electronics
  • Electric Cap Lamps
  • X/P Electric Motors
  • Permissible Fans
  • Flashlights
  • Ground Check (Wire) Monitors
  • Intrinsically Safe Instruments
  • Intrinsically Safe Relays
  • Lighting Systems
  • Communication Systems
  • Multi-Gas Detectors – Handheld
  • Machine Methane Monitoring Systems
  • Telephone and Signaling Devices
  • Water Pumps

MSHA will accept testing and evaluation performed by an independent laboratory for purposes of MSHA product approval provided that they receive:

  1. Written evidence of the laboratory’s independence and current recognition by a laboratory accrediting organization
  2. Complete technical explanation of how the product complies with each requirement in the applicable MSHA product approval requirements
  3. Identification of components or features of the product that are critical to the safety of the product
  4. All documentation, including drawings and specifications, as submitted to the independent laboratory by the applicant

MSHA will accept equivalent non-MSHA product safety standards, assuming they provide the same degree of protection.  With modifications, these standards are accepted:

  • IEC 60079-0, Fourth Edition, 2004-01
  • IEC 60079-1, Fifth Edition, 2003-11

MET Labs is an independent and accredited test lab that offers testing and reporting as part of an MSHA approval application.  Test data is delivered to the manufacturer, which then submits the formal application to MSHA.  In our communication with the agency, applications submitted as part of this Part 6 program are looked at within about 2 months, as compared to up to over a year for standard MSHA approvals.

Contact MET for safety certification for hazardous location approvals for NRTL & MSHA in U.S., ATEX for EU, & IECEx for the international CB Scheme.

Need in-person training?  Attend a Hazardous Location Testing Seminar in Texas in July.

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