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DOL/MSHA News Release
Mine Safety and Health Administration
Contact: Katharine Snyder
Phone: (202) 693-9422
or Jo Anne Burgoyne
Phone: (404) 562-2076

Released Friday, May 16, 2003

MSHA To Hold Public Hearing In Birmingham, Ala.
On Coal Dust Sampling Requirements
Proposed Changes Designed to Improve Black Lung Prevention


BIRMINGHAM, Ala. -- The U.S. Department of Labor's Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) will hold a public meeting Tuesday in Birmingham to receive comments about proposed plans for more effective prevention of black lung disease. The rulemaking actions are part of the agency's comprehensive program to improve safety and health performance in the mining industry. The proposed rules cover verification of coal mine dust control plans and the method used to determine respirable dust in coal mines.

The hearing begins at 8:00 a.m. at the Holiday Inn-Airport, 5000 Richard Arrington Blvd.

"With these two actions, we are moving toward better control of respirable dust in the mines," said Dave D. Lauriski, assistant secretary of labor for mine safety and health. "Our goal is to send every miner home safe and healthy at the end of every working day."

The proposed rule would update a 32-year-old "finding" that called for averaging samples taken over multiple shifts. MSHA is proposing to assume responsibility for all underground compliance dust sampling. Under current rules, mine operators take most samples required to determine compliance with federal standards designed to prevent black lung. While eliminating the requirement for compliance sampling by underground coal mine operators, the proposal calls for mine operators to collect samples to verify the adequacy of dust control measures specified in their ventilation plans. The new proposed rule reflects public comments on an earlier version of the proposal.

However, under the new proposal, the current standard for the amount of respirable dust remains unchanged: 2mg/cubic meter.

The record also is being reopened on a previous proposal to revise the way MSHA determines compliance with respirable coal mine dust standards. MSHA and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services jointly developed a proposed rule stating that the average concentration of respirable dust to which an individual working miner is exposed can be accurately measured over a single shift.

Event: Mine Safety and Health Administration Public Hearing

Date & Time: Tuesday, May 20, 2003, 8:00 a.m. CDT

Location: Holiday Inn-Airport, 5000 Richard Arrington Blvd., (205) 591-6900