The Mine Safety and Health Administration will host a public hearing tomorrow on the agency's proposed rule to lower miners' exposure to respirable coal mine dust.

The rule would lower the existing exposure limit; provide for full-shift sampling; redefine the term “normal production shift,” and add reexamination and decertification requirements for people certified to sample, and maintain and calibrate sampling devices.

It would also provide for single shift compliance sampling under the mine operator and MSHA’s inspector sampling programs, and would establish sampling requirements for use of the Continuous Personal Dust Monitor (CDPM) and expanded requirements for medical surveillance.

According to the MSHA, the changes would significantly improve health protections for coal miners “by reducing their occupational exposure to respirable coal mine dust and lowering the risk that they will suffer material impairment of health or functional capacity over their working lives.”

Excessive, longterm exposure to coal dust can lead to black lung.

Members of the mining community are invited to comment publicly on the proposed rule. The hearing will take place on Tuesday, Jan. 25 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Marriott Salt Lake City, 75 S West Temple, Salt Lake City, UT.

The proposed rule as published in the Federal Register is available at www.msha.gov/REGS/FEDREG/PROPOSED/2010Prop/2010-25249.pdf .