US mines comply with new dust rule: MSHA

DESPITE concerns voiced by the US mining industry that it would have trouble meeting the requirements of the rule to reduce respirable coal mine dust, the targets are being achieved.

Lou Caruana

The US Department of Labour’s mine safety and health administration (MSHA) said that 99% of the 7456 valid respirable dust samples collected during the first two months under the new rule met compliance levels.

Between August 1 and September 30, MSHA collected 4255 dust samples from 515 coal mines; 20 of those (or nearly 0.5%) exceeded compliance levels used to determine if a violation is warranted.

Of the 3201 samples submitted by mine operators, 42 (or 1.3%) exceeded compliance levels.

“These samples were all generated under the new, more rigid standard that requires them to be taken when mines are operating at 80% production or more,” department official Joseph Main said.

“And the results clearly show that mine operators are able to comply with the rule. That’s good news for the health of all coal miners and our efforts to end black lung disease.”

Since August 1, MSHA has conducted comprehensive outreach, education and training on the new respirable dust rule.

In addition to meeting with the mining community across the country and posting dozens of frequently asked questions on its website to help mine operators comply, MSHA coal enforcement and training personnel have trained and certified more than 1200 individuals in respirable dust sampling and calibration.

In collaboration with the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, MSHA will host a series of workshops on best practices for controlling respirable dust in coal mines.

“These workshops are part of MSHA’s ongoing commitment to assist the mining industry in the implementation of the new rule,” Main said.

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