MSHA’s Main Highlights “Highly Achievable” Requirements of Coal Dust Rule
Approximately 99 percent of the dust samples collected since MSHA’s final rule to lower miners’ exposure to respirable coal mine dust went into effect on Aug. 1 are in compliance, the agency announced in April. The sampling, performed by mine operators and MSHA inspectors, indicates that compliance with the new rule’s stricter requirements is “highly achievable,” according to MSHA. Assistant Secretary of Labor for Mine Safety and Health Joseph A. Main made the announcement during a hearing of the House Committee on Education and the Workforce’s Subcommittee on Workforce Protections. “This is very good news for coal miners and validates the ability of mine operators to maintain the low dust levels to meet the new standard,” Main said. The new final rule lowers the existing exposure limit in MSHA’s overall dust standard from 2.0 to 1.5 milligrams per cubic meter of air (mg/m3) at underground and surface coal mines. The rule also lowers the existing limit of 1.0 to 0.5 mg/m3 for intake air at underground mines and for miners who show evidence of developing pneumoconiosis. During the hearing, Subcommittee Ranking Member Representative Frederica Wilson announced the reintroduction of the Robert C. Byrd Mine Safety Protection Act, a bill she stated would help MSHA provide greater protections for mine workers. “An important provision of this bill provides MSHA with greater subpoena authority,” Wilson said. “This means that MSHA would have the authority to compel the production of documents and witnesses during an inspection and investigation.” See MSHA’s news release.