Despite the best efforts of the Mine Safety and Health Administration’s (MSHA) efforts to control exposure to respirable coal mine dust, the number of Black Lung cases currently being diagnosed in Appalachia is unprecedented, according to some researchers. In the decades since the passage of the 1977 Mine Act, MSHA has tried everything from new and more stringent regulations, including Lowering Miners’ Exposure to Respirable Coal Mine Dust, final rule, the use of Continuous Personal Dust Monitors and compliance assistance initiatives to eliminate the conditions that lead to the disease.
Until recently, underground coal miners and mine operators had little way of knowing—in real time—if miners were being exposed to hazardous levels of respirable coal dust during their shifts. NIOSH collaborated with an instrument manufacturer, government partners, labor representatives, and coal industry leaders to develop the continuous personal dust monitor (CPDM), a technology that offers miners, safety personnel, and operators real-time exposure information to help protect miners’ health.
The U.S. Department of Labor’s Mine Safety and Health Administration says it will issue its Final Rule for Examination of Working Places in Metal and Nonmetal Mines. The new rule will be published in the Federal Register on Jan. 23, 2017, and go into effect on May 23, 2017.
25 miners died in work-related accidents last year
January 6, 2017
Preliminary data released by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) indicate that in 2016, 25 miners died in work-related accidents at the nation’s mines – down from 29 in 2015. The figure represents the lowest number of mining deaths ever recorded and only the second year that mining deaths dropped below 30.
Historically, December has been a particularly tragic month in U.S. coal mining.
Considered the worst mining accident ever, explosions at West Virginia’s Monongah Nos. 6 and 8 in 1906 claimed 362 lives.
The Mine Safety and Health Administration has issued an electrical safety alert after several miners were injured in underground coalmine accidents. The mine safety agency’s recommended best practices include:
As an 11-year veteran of the Mine Safety and Health Administration and a member of MSHA’s Mine Emergency Unit since 2007, I have responded to a number of mine fires and explosions around the country, the most disastrous being the Upper Big Branch blast in 2010 that killed 29 coal miners.
Cities and towns beset by natural disasters or catastrophic events immediately turn to their community’s first responders to coordinate and execute rescue and recovery efforts.
The practice is no different when a calamity occurs in an underground mine.