The agency has changed the hearing dates at Washington, Pennsylvania, and Arlington, Virginia, and has added a seventh location in Prestonsburg, Kentucky.
Each of the public hearings will begin at 9am local time and end after the last presenter speaks, but no later than 5pm, on the following dates at the locations indicated:
Dec 7, 2010 National Mine Health and Safety Academy Beaver, West Virginia
Jan 11, 2011 Marriott Evansville Airport Evansville, Indiana
Jan 13, 2011 Sheraton Birmingham Birmingham, Alabama
Jan 25, 2011 Marriott Salt Lake City Salt Lake City, Utah
Feb 8, 2011 The George Washington Hotel Washington, Pennsylvania
Feb 10, 2011 Jenny Wiley State Resort Park Prestonsburg, Kentucky
Feb 15, 2011 MSHA Headquarters Arlington, Virginia
Each hearing will begin with an opening statement from MSHA, followed by an opportunity for members of the public to make oral presentations. A written request is not required to speak; however, individuals and representatives of organizations wishing to speak are encouraged to notify MSHA in advance for scheduling purposes.
MSHA will accept post-hearing written comments and other appropriate information for the record from any interested party, including those not presenting oral statements. Comments must be received by midnight EST on February 28, 2011.
Assistant secretary of labor for mine safety and health Joseph Main noted that the proposed rule – Lowering Miners' Exposure to Respirable Coal Mine Dust, Including Continuous Personal Dust Monitors – would significantly improve health protection for both underground and surface coal miners through the reduction of occupational exposure to respirable coal mine dust.
“It will lower the risk that they will suffer material impairment of health or functional capacity over their working lives,” he said.
The last of four public hearings by MSHA on its rock dust emergency temporary standard was held in Charleston, West Virginia, last month.
The agency’s ETS became effective on the date it was published in the Federal Register, September 23. It is based on a review of accident investigation reports of mine explosions that occurred in intake air courses and involved coal dust.
The standard is also based on the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health’s report, Recommendations for a New Rock Dusting Standard to Prevent Coal Dust Explosions in Intake Airways.
The emergency temporary standard applies only to bituminous coal operations.
MSHA also issued a public information bulletin to provide guidance to operators on methods for compliance to the new standard.
Under the standard, the total incombustible content of combined coal dust, rock dust and other dust must be increased from 65% to 80% in all accessible areas of underground bituminous mines, and be at least 65% in other areas.
It also mandates an increase in TIC percentage in all areas underground where methane is present in any ventilating current.
The 80% TIC must be upped by 0.4% for each 0.1% methane in returns, while the 65% TIC in all other areas must be increased by 1% for each 0.1% methane present.
MSHA allowed additional time once the ETS was published for mines to purchase more rock dust-related equipment and materials, ordering all operators to comply with the new standard by October 7 in newly mined areas and by November 22 elsewhere.
When rock dusting, all mines should place priority on areas that pose the greatest risk to miner safety, such as near active faces, and in areas where possible ignition sources could be found, including conveyor belt drives and belt entries.