West Virginia: Check all SCSRs

THE findings of a West Virginia mine safety agency have been released in a report this week, which said that all mines need to check their self-contained self-rescuers for heat damage.
West Virginia: Check all SCSRs West Virginia: Check all SCSRs West Virginia: Check all SCSRs West Virginia: Check all SCSRs West Virginia: Check all SCSRs

Photo courtesy of Rob Mayfield.

Donna Schmidt

The study, completed earlier this year by the West Virginia Office of Miners’ Health, Safety and Training under former acting director Jim Dean, also found that there may be SCSRs in use at mines that don’t work.

The office has since asked all mines to identify and remove any SCSR units that may have been exposed to heat at any time.

The 82-page report and six-page summary also includes a section on comments, reactions and resolutions from involved parties.

Popular SCSR producer CSE offered extensive comment, as did representatives of agencies including the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health.

“It is interesting to see your independent study validate NIOSH results indicating potential problems from storing the CSE SR-100 at elevated temperatures. Storage and handling of SCSRs must strictly adhere to specific manufacturer recommendations,” NIOSH said.

“The OMHS&T study and findings will help to increase awareness about the limitations of SCSR use.”

In its note to the agency, CSE noted that the heat warning is something it has always stressed.

“It has long been known that any SCSR, whether it is CSE’s SR-100 or another manufacturer’s unit, that has been exposed to temperatures outside the limits set by the manufacturer is not considered to be in acceptable operating condition and is to be removed from service.

“The same is true for units that have sustained physical damage. CSE is confident that federal and state regulators have actively enforced manufacturers’ warnings to remove units from service that were exposed to excessive heat or that otherwise do not meet performance criteria due to their physical condition, but obviously we are now discovering that many outdated, overheated and damaged units have remained in the field.”

The mine safety agency said that such guidelines can only be followed when everyone using the packs strictly adheres to them while storing and using the units only within specifications and, furthermore, that its warning is not a moment too soon.

“Evidently, while we too wish everyone involved had taken these warnings as seriously as we now know they should be, it has not been the case,” the agency said.

“West Virginia failed in this regard and, based upon the reaction of other states and MSHA to our raising the issue, they seem to have as well. We are all guilty of not reading the manuals and now are paying the price by having to buy new units. We are lucky it is just money – it just as well could have been the life of one of our inspectors.”

Report authors Randall J Harris and J Wayne Ashby said that the examination of the topic, which was set into motion earlier this year after a dozen miners lost their lives at the Sago mine in West Virginia, was intended to highlight and force a heavier hand to SCSR checks and usage.

“The impact of this study, even before publication, has been to spark a series of actions that will result in closer attention to SCSR inspection and hopefully a new respect for these devices as the life saving appliances they are.”

The report can be viewed in its entirety at http://www.wvminesafety.org/PDFs/WV%20OMHST%20SCSR%20Study%2010-30-06.pdf

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