Skip to content
Advisory Committee on the Elimination of Pneumoconiosis Among
Coal Mine Workers; Final Report [11/26/96]

Volume 61, Number 229, Page 60120-60121

-----------------------------------------------------------------------

DEPARTMENT OF LABOR
Mine Safety and Health Administration
RIN 1219-AA81

Advisory Committee on the Elimination of Pneumoconiosis Among
Coal Mine Workers; Final Report

AGENCY: Mine Safety and Health Administration, Labor.

ACTION: Notice of availability of final report.

-----------------------------------------------------------------------

SUMMARY: This notice announces the availability of the final report of the Secretary of Labor's Advisory Committee on the Elimination of Pneumoconiosis Among Coal Mine Workers (Advisory Committee).

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Patricia W. Silvey, Director, Office of Standards, Regulations, and Variances, Mine Safety and Health Administration, 4015 Wilson Boulevard, Room 631, Arlington, Virginia 22203; phone 703-235-1910.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: The Advisory Committee on the Elimination of Pneumoconiosis Among Coal Mine Workers (Advisory Committee) was established by the Secretary of Labor on January 31, 1995, in accordance with the provisions of the Federal Advisory Committee Act (FACA) and Sections 101(a) and 102(c) of the Federal Mine Safety and Health Act of 1977, and was chartered under the provisions of FACA.

The Advisory Committee was charged to make recommendations to the Secretary for improved standards, or other appropriate actions, on permissible exposure limits to eliminate black lung disease and silicosis; the means to control respirable coal mine dust levels; improved monitoring of respirable coal mine dust levels and the role of the miner in that monitoring; and the adequacy of the operators' current sampling program to determine the actual levels of dust concentrations to which miners are exposed.

The nine-member Advisory Committee visited three working mines and held five public meetings during which it reviewed an extensive amount of material and heard formal presentations from a number of technical experts on respirable dust control and measurement. The Advisory Committee also heard from some 75 members of the public including many miners. The Advisory Committee has issued its final report to the Secretary of Labor.

This report is available to interested members of the public and may be obtained upon request to: Patricia W. Silvey, Director, Office of Standards, Regulations, and Variances, 4015 Wilson Boulevard, Room 631, Arlington, Virginia 22203; phone 703- 235-1910. The report is also available on MSHAs Homepage on the World Wide Web at: http:// www.msha.gov.

The Advisory Committee unanimously recommended that the Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) take full responsibility for all coal mine dust sampling conducted to determine compliance with exposure standards. As an interim measure, the group recommended that the current program of dust sampling by mine operators be strengthened, for example, by requiring only one full-shift sample to determine noncompliance rather than averaging five such samples.

Among other recommendations, the Advisory Committee said MSHA should:

  1. Consider lowering the allowable exposure limit on coal mine dust;
  2. Establish separate permissible exposure limits for silica (quartz) and coal mine dust;
  3. Reduce silica exposure of coal miners to prevent silicosis;
  4. Make better checks on the effectiveness of mine operators' dust control plans before MSHA approves them;
  5. Improve dust control in surface coal mines;
  6. Focus on dust exposure of independent contractor employees in coal mines;
  7. Improve miner training on dust;
  8. Expand the paid ``walkaround rights'' of miners' representatives to include participation in dust sampling;
  9. Have mine operators pay for expanded government dust sampling;
  10. Continue to push research on ways to achieve continuous monitoring of dust levels;
  11. Include surface miners in periodic x-rays offered to underground coal miners; and
  12. Further review the program required by 30 CFR part 90 that allows miners with signs of black lung to transfer into low-dust jobs.

Initial review of the final report by MSHA indicates that the Agency can adopt some of the recommendations quickly through administrative changes; however, some recommendations that require research or rulemaking may take a year or more to implement. The Agency plans to begin work immediately.

Dated: November 20, 1996.
J. Davitt McAteer,
Assistant Secretary for Mine Safety and Health.
[FR Doc. 96-30120 Filed 11-25-96; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 4510-43-P