MSHA: Coal Mines Are Complying with New Dust Rule

In late October, MSHA reported that approximately 99 percent of the valid respirable dust samples collected during the first two months under its new dust rule met compliance levels, despite concerns that the mining industry might have trouble meeting the agency’s new requirements. The new final rule, which went into effect Aug. 1, 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. 

According to the agency, only 20 (or nearly 0.5 percent) of the 4,255 dust samples MSHA collected from 515 coal mines exceeded compliance levels used to determine if a violation is warranted. Forty-two (or 1.3 percent) of the 3,201 samples submitted by mine operators 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 percent production or more,” said Assistant Secretary of Labor for Mine Safety and Health Joseph A. Main. “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.”
MSHA also announced a series of workshops on best practices for controlling respirable dust in coal mines. The first workshop was held Oct. 28 at the National Mine Health and Safety Academy in Beaver, W.Va. The agency plans to hold additional workshops next year in Birmingham, Ala., Evansville, Ind., and Grand Junction, Colo.
Visit MSHA’s website at for more information.
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