Tuesday, March 07, 2006

MSHA's Temporary Emergency Standard Hits the Street

MSHA has posted its awaited Temporary Emergency Standard intended to help prevent more Sagos and Almas. It's only on open file at the Federal Register right now but due for pubication on Thursday, at which time it will take effect.

The actual requirements start on page 96 of the 111 page document. (Link is on MSHA's home page.)

To be fair: The reason for that, and contributing to the length of time this rule has taken, is largely the procedures imposed by various laws, regulations, executive orders and the OMB that any federal agency has to comply with in order to put out any new rule, however urgent or obvious. (The growth of such requirements in another story, but they largely began with the National Environmental Policy Act, enacted in 1969.)

Some highlights of the ETS:

§ 50.10 Immediate notification.

If an accident occurs, an operator shall immediately
contact the MSHA District Office having jurisdiction over
its mine. If an operator cannot contact the appropriate
MSHA District Office, it shall immediately contact the MSHA
Headquarters Office in Arlington, Virginia by telephone, at(800) 746-1553. The operator shall contact MSHA as
described at once without delay and within 15 minutes.
If communications are lost because of an emergency or other
unexpected event, the operator shall notify MSHA at once
without delay and within 15 minutes of having access to a
telephone or other means of communication.

§ 75.1714-4 Additional Self-Contained Self-Rescuers.

(a) In addition to the requirements in §§ 75.1714, 75.1714-
1, 75.1714-2, and 75.1714-3, the mine operator shall
provide for each person who is underground at least one
additional SCSR device,
which provides protection for a
period of one hour or longer, to cover all persons in the

c) When the SCSR devices otherwise required by paragraph
(a) of § 75.1714 are not adequate to provide enough oxygen
for all persons to safely evacuate the mine under mine
emergency conditions, the mine operator shall provide
additional SCSR devices in the primary and alternate

(e) A sign made of reflective material with the words
“SELF-RESCUERS” shall be conspicuously posted at each
storage location and direction signs made of a reflective
material shall be posted leading to each storage location.

§ 75.380 Escapeways; bituminous and lignite mines.

(d) 7) Provided with a continuous directional lifeline or
equivalent device
that shall be:

(i) Installed and maintained throughout the entire
length of each escapeway
as defined in paragraph (b)(1) of
this section.

(ii) Made of durable material.

(iii) Marked with a reflective material every 25 feet.

(iv) Located in such a manner for miners to use
effectively to escape.

(v) Equipped with directional indicators, signifying
the route of escape, placed at intervals not exceeding 100

(vi) Securely attached to and marked to show the
location of any SCSR storage locations in the escapeways.

75.1502 Mine emergency evacuation and firefighting
program of instruction.

(c) Mine emergency evacuation drills. Each operator of an
underground coal mine shall require all miners to
participate in mine emergency evacuation drills.

(1) Mine emergency evacuation drills shall be held at
periods of time so as to ensure that all miners participate
in such evacuations at intervals of not more than 90 days.

(2) For purposes of this paragraph (c), a mine emergency
evacuation drill means that the miner shall travel the
primary or alternate escapeway, from the working section or
the miner’s work station, to the surface or the exits at
the bottom of the shaft or slope. An evacuation drill
shall not be conducted in the same escapeway as the
immediately preceding drill.

Public hearings in April will give everyone a chance to weigh in on whether these rules should be permanent.


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