In a new bulletin for its Accident Prevention Program, the agency reiterated that seeking shelter after a mine emergency is imperative if escaping the mine is not possible.
“During your emergency evacuation training, you are taught to seek shelter inside of refuge alternatives and await rescue because help is on the way,” MSHA said, noting that training covers deployment and operation of the specific units installed in the mine.
While refuge alternatives are designed to provide enough breathable air, food and water to sustain life for 96 hours, operations should consider bringing more equipment into the shelter. Spare self-contained self-rescuers, for example, may be needed if it becomes necessary to leave the unit at any point.
Spare cap lamps will ensure there is light inside the refuge alternative for a longer period of time. RAs are equipped with instruments to monitor inside and outside air, but extra gas detectors provide added monitoring capability, especially when purging the air lock during deployment and initial entry.
Finally, every miner requiring medication, such as insulin for diabetics, should come to work each day carrying enough for at least 96 hours.
MSHA reminded operators that refuge alternatives are stocked with 96 hours of water and food, so entering with dinner buckets may not be necessary (once medication is removed).
In addition, because shelters contain the tools necessary to make repairs to the unit, miners should remove tool belts before entering. This also prevents damage to the tent, a hazard of entering with tools hanging from the miner’s waist.
For a printable version of this bulletin, visit the MSHA web site.