[Federal Register: March 12, 2002 (Volume 67, Number 48)]
DEPARTMENT OF LABOR
Mine Safety and Health Administration
Mine Rescue Teams
AGENCY: Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA), Labor.
ACTION: Notice of public meeting.
SUMMARY: The Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) will hold a
public meeting to gather ideas and suggestions from the mining
community on the current state of availability, quality and
preparedness of mine rescue teams. The ideas and suggestions will be
considered by MSHA in determining what actions can be taken to improve
mine rescue capabilities.
DATES: The public meeting will be held on March 28, 2002.
ADDRESSES: The public meeting will be held at the following location:
National Mine Health and Safety Academy, 1301 Airport Road, Beaver,
West Virginia 25813-9426, Phone: 304-256-3257.
FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Marvin W. Nichols, Jr., Director,
Office of Standards, Regulations and Variances, MSHA, 4015 Wilson
Boulevard, Arlington, VA 22203-1984. He can be reached at Nichols-Marvin@dol.gov (Internet e-mail), 703-235-1910 (Voice), or 703-235-
In the wake of several mine disasters, Congress promulgated the
Federal Mine Safety and Health Act of 1977 (Mine Act). Congress
believed that the ready availability of mine rescue capability in the
event of an accident would be vital to protect miners. Accordingly,
Sec. 115(e) of the Mine Act required the Secretary of Labor to publish
regulations requiring that mine rescue teams be available for rescue
and recovery work at each underground mine. Section 115(e) also allowed
mine operators to make cooperative arrangements to provide for the
availability of mine rescue teams.
On July 3, 1980, (45 FR 46992), MSHA promulgated a new part 49, in
title 30 of the Code of Federal Regulations, that included requirements
for mine rescue teams in the coal and metal and nonmetal mining
industries. The purpose of the rule was to implement Sec. 115(e) of the
Mine Act by ensuring the availability of rescue teams at underground
mines in case of a mine emergency.
The regulation generally requires two mine rescue teams per mine
and allows outside coverage teams. To limit the expense, many mines now
choose to contract for mine rescue service. Existing part 49 places no
restrictions on the number of mines a contractor can agree to cover.
In 1995, MSHA hosted a Mine Emergency Preparedness Conference at
the National Mine Health and Safety Academy in Beckley, West Virginia.
Attendees included mine rescue association members, mine rescue team
trainers and captains, operators, state and federal government
officials, educators, and international representatives. Issues
addressed at the conference included the need to (1) increase the
numbers of qualified mine rescue personnel, (2) improve the
availability of trained mine rescue teams, (3) assure the quality of
contract teams, and (4) provide incentives for mine operators to
maintain mine rescue teams. One outcome of this conference was the
establishment of a committee to study the issues identified at the
conference and to make recommendations to MSHA on ways to address those
In 1998, MSHA established the Mine Rescue Team Initiative Committee
to investigate a decline in the number of available mine rescue teams,
to make recommendations for maintaining the quality of existing mine
rescue teams, and to emphasize MSHA's commitment to mine rescue. MSHA
conducted interviews with industry and labor, and state agencies to
gather input from all facets of the mining community. Given the passage
of time since the committee completed its work, we are conducting a
meeting to gather current information concerning mine rescue
II. Public Meeting
MSHA will conduct a public meeting to gather input from interested
parties on the subject of mine rescue teams, quality and preparedness.
We will conduct the meeting in an informal manner, and a court
reporter will make a verbatim transcript of the proceeding.
The meeting is open to the public and will begin at 9:00 a.m. and
finish after the last speaker.
Upon request, after all scheduled speakers have made an oral
statement, we will allow members of the public to speak at the meeting
on a first-come, first-serve basis. However, if there are no additional
speakers after the last scheduled speaker, the meeting will be
Send your requests to make oral presentations to MSHA, Office of
Standards, Regulations, and Variances; 4015 Wilson Boulevard, Room 631,
Arlington, VA 22203. Phone or fax requests may be made at voice: 703-
235-1910; or fax: 703-235-5551. You may also request to speak when you
sign in at the meeting.
In addition to making an oral statement, any member of the public
may submit written statements, and other data to MSHA representatives
at the meeting.
This meeting will give mine operators, miners and their
representatives, and other interested parties an opportunity to present
their views on the actions that can be taken to result in more
effective mine rescue team capabilities.
We are specifically interested in comments addressing the issues
described below, although parties are encouraged to submit comments on
any relevant mine rescue team issue. Information received will help us
resolve these issues and determine the most effective way to address
the changing needs of the underground mining industry and its mine
rescue team capability.
A. Availability of Mine Rescue Teams
How can mine operators be encouraged to provide for more mine
rescue team capability?
B. Mine Rescue Team Membership
How should an individual's employment history in underground mining
affect that individual's ability to serve on a mine rescue team?
C. Training for Mine Rescue Team Members
Should additional training be required for a former mine rescue
team member who rejoins a team which still uses the same breathing
Should there be joint training of mine rescue teams not located at
the same rescue station?
For mine rescue teams not located at the same rescue station, how
many hours of joint training would be required?
Should both teams participate concurrently in MSHA-supported rescue
contests or MSHA emergency response drills (MERD)?
Should teams that participate in a MSHA-supported mine rescue
contest or MERD exercises earn ``training credit'' for each
D. Instructor Qualifications
How should an individual's employment history in underground mining
affect that individual's ability to serve as a mine rescue team
E. Equipment Availability, Maintenance, and Testing Requirements
Comments from the mining community have suggested that the costs
associated with the current equipment requirements prevent some mine
operators from establishing a mine rescue team.
In light of today's mine rescue team needs, what type, amount,
maintenance and testing of equipment is appropriate to ensure the same
level of protection for miners?
A recommendation was received by the Agency to consider an
incentive in the form of penalty reductions for mine operators that
establish and maintain mine rescue teams.
The Agency believes this type of incentive would be prohibited by
the Mine Act. We would, however, welcome suggestions on other types of
incentives which would encourage operators to establish their own mine
Dated: March 7, 2002.
Dave D. Lauriski,
Assistant Secretary of Labor for Mine Safety and Health.
[FR Doc. 02-5947 Filed 3-11-02; 8:45 am]
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