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MSHA News Release: [03/07/2006]
Contact: Dirk Fillpot          Amy Louviere
Phone:    (202) 693-9406   (202) 693-9423
Release Number 06-416-NAT


MSHA Publishes Emergency Temporary Standard on Mine Evacuation

ARLINGTON, Va. - For only the third time in the history of the Mine Act, the U.S. Labor Department's Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) today issued an emergency temporary standard (ETS) to improve protection of miners during and after underground coal mine accidents and evacuations. The ETS will become effective immediately upon publication in the Federal Register March 9.

"This year's tragic mine accidents in West Virginia require immediate action to put in place additional safety requirements to help miners successfully evacuate a mine when an emergency occurs," said David G. Dye, acting administrator for mine safety and health. "MSHA is moving forward on every front to improve protections for miners' safety and health."

The emergency temporary standard contains provisions -- applicable to all underground coal mines -- on self-contained self-rescuer (SCSR) storage and use, evacuation training and the installation and maintenance of lifelines. The availability of supplemental SCSRs to increase the supply of oxygen; added lifelines to guide miners along evacuation routes when visibility is poor; more frequent evacuation drills to condition miners to escape quickly, and proper training on how to transfer from one SCSR to another will help ensure that miners do not suffer injury or death in an emergency.

The ETS also includes requirements for immediate accident notification applicable to all underground and surface mines. Mine operators must notify MSHA within 15 minutes after determining an accident has occurred so that coordination of appropriate mine rescue or other emergency response can begin as soon as possible.

Public hearings on the emergency temporary standard are scheduled for April 24 in Denver, Colo.; April 26 in Lexington, Ky.; April 28 in Arlington, Va and May 9 in Charleston, W.Va.. Written comments will be accepted until May 30, 2006, and may be submitted to MSHA's Office of Standards, Regulations and Variances, 1100 Wilson Blvd., Room 2350, Arlington, Va. 22209-3939; fax: 202-693-9441. Comments may also be submitted at www.regulations.gov, or by e-mail to zzMSHA-comments@dol.gov, inserting RIN: 1219-AB46 in the subject line.

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