Rescue teams to double training

MINE rescue team training will be almost doubled and teams will be required to be closer to mines under a final rule published by the US Mine Safety and Health Administration.
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Peabody's Appalachia mine rescue team.

Donna Schmidt

The regulations were published February 8 in the Federal Register and implement the fourth section of 2006's MINER Act to increase the capabilities, response times and effectiveness of mine rescue teams.

Among the finalised requirements is to be the existence of four types of teams - minesite, composite, contract and state-sponsored - as well as the requisite that teams participate in two local competitions each year.

Teams will also be required to complete 96 hours annually of training, up from 40 hours, including education involving smoke, simulated smoke or an equivalent environment.

Additionally, members must have training at each mine the team will service to be familiar with its operations and ventilations (including underground).

Other regulations include:

  • An individual with mine emergency response knowledge must be present on each shift at each mine; also, annual emergency response training using "an MSHA-prescribed course" must be completed;
  • Two certified mine rescue teams for each operation as well as adjusted criteria with regard to the qualifications of certification; and
  • Rescue teams' stations must be located within one hour of the mines serviced.

"The presence of qualified, well-trained mine rescue teams is one of our greatest assets during a mine emergency," said MSHA acting assistant secretary of labor Richard Stickler.

"This regulation will help ensure that no matter where or when a mine accident occurs, dedicated men and women will be readily available and properly trained to assist in the rescue of their comrades underground."

The proposed rule was published in September, and while the agency put forth a comment period for public input that expired November 16, four public hearings on the topic took place in Salt Lake City, Utah; Lexington, Kentucky; Charleston, West Virginia; and Birmingham, Alabama.

The final rule on mine rescue equipment is still pending.

The complete final rule on mine rescue teams can be viewed at

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