Skip to content
Mine Safety and Health Administration MSHA's Accident Prevention Program
Miner's Tip

Understanding the Basics of a Refuge Alternative

Safety Something YOU can live with!
Mine Type: All underground mines
Category: General safety and training


Refuge chambers or shelters are now a part of the mine's emergency response plan. There are four basic aspects of a Refuge Alternative.  Understanding the Basics of a Refuge Alternative

(1) Structural - this refers to the protective structure that houses the internal atmosphere.
(2) Breathable Air - uncontaminated air from oxygen or compressed air cylinders, compressed air lines, or boreholes with fans or compressors. There are specified flow rates for oxygen / air which must be provided to assure adequate breathable air is available for all miners in the unit for 96 hours.
(3) Air Monitoring - miners must be provided with the ability to measure carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide, oxygen, and methane inside and outside of the structure from within the structure.
(4) Harmful Gas Removal - chemical scrubbing material or purging or other procedures are necessary to remove harmful gases such as CO2 (from exhaled breath), CO (mine fire gas), or CH4.

Your knowledge of how to examine, transport, maintain, deploy and use these units can save your life. It is imperative that you know how to deploy and operate these units should an emergency arise and you are not able to escape from the mine, therefore miners should receive comprehensive training for all aspects of refuge alternatives. There are requirements for quarterly training on detailed procedures and annual expectations training found in the 30 CFR 75.1504(b). The final rule can be found using this link .

If you have a tip you would like to pass on, you can e-mail it to
zzMSHA-MinersTips@dol.gov.
If your tip is selected, you will receive credit in this space.


Issued: 08/26/2009
Tag # AP2008-97138