Federal Register: July 7, 1999 (Volume 64, Number 129)
30 CFR Parts 57 and 75
Safety Standards for Self-Rescue Devices in Underground Coal and
Underground Metal and Nonmetal Mines
AGENCY: Mine Safety and Health Administration, Labor.
ACTION: Advance notice of proposed rulemaking.
SUMMARY: The Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) is considering revising its safety standards for self-rescue devices based on MSHA's continuing evaluation of self-rescue devices and the public comments received during the recent Self-Rescue Conference held in Beckley, West Virginia. Self-rescue breathing devices, used in underground mines for over 25 years, have saved lives. The devices are subjected to harsh in-mine use conditions and are stored in a rugged mining environment. The rule would help assure that the devices will function as intended whenever they are needed in mine emergencies.
DATES: Submit comments on or before August 6, 1999.
ADDRESSES: Send comments to MSHA, Office of Standards, Regulations, and Variances, MSHA, Room 631, 4015 Wilson Boulevard, Arlington, Virginia 22203. You are encouraged to submit comments on a computer disk or via e-mail to zzMSHA-Comments@dol.gov along with an original hard copy or via telefax to: 703-235-5551.
FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Carol Jones, Acting Director, Office of Standards, Regulations, and Variances, 703-235-1910.
Miners wear breathing apparatus known as self-rescue devices to exit a mine during emergencies such as fires, explosions, or other incidents which contaminate the environment. There are two types of self-rescue devices used in underground mines. A filter self-rescue device (FSR) removes hazardous carbon monoxide through filtration of the mine air. A self-contained self-rescue device (SCSR) is a closed- circuit breathing apparatus that isolates the users' lungs providing breathable air. Because an SCSR functions in a closed circuit, all contaminants in the surrounding mine air can be eliminated from the air the miner is breathing.
MSHA and the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) held a joint self-rescue conference in Beckley, West Virginia on June 15 and 16, 1999. The conference provided an opportunity for an exchange of information between the agencies, self-rescuer manufacturers, mining industry representatives and labor representatives on a range of topics involving self-rescue devices. The participants addressed a number of significant self-rescue device issues. The discussion also raised additional questions for the Agency to consider. Following the conference, MSHA personnel met to consider the issues raised and the views expressed at the conference. With this advance notice of proposed rulemaking (ANPRM), we are requesting the mining community to comment on issues developed at the conference and other issues raised by MSHA. It is our hope that by hearing the views of the mining community early in our rulemaking process we can formulate a workable approach to addressing self-rescuer issues that will best protect the safety of miners.
We have already announced in the Semiannual Regulatory Agenda published in April, 1999 that we intend to develop a proposed rule to address self-rescue devices. We will consider the comments we receive as a result of this ANPRM in developing the proposed rule.
II. Issues We Ask You To Consider in Your Comments
1. There have been some instances where self-rescue devices were not donned properly in an emergency. In addition, there are studies which show that a person's ability to retain the knowledge and skills necessary to properly don a self-rescuer decreases significantly over time.
- a. How can we enhance training to assure that miners will be able
to effectively don their self-rescuer?
b. Is annual training appropriate? Would quarterly or semiannual training
- be better? Should the training be held in conjunction with fire
fighting and evacuation drills?
c. Is the content of the current training appropriate? Should training include: expectations when wearing self-rescuers; donning procedures for all types of self-rescuers present in the mine; ways to maximize the useful life of a self-rescuer during an emergency; and effective techniques for transferring from one unit to another?
d. Should miners be trained using a breathing-resistance simulator, for example, a mouthpiece?
- a. How can we ensure that miners continue to have confidence in
self-rescue devices so that they will be used successfully in an
b. How should we improve the reliability of self-rescue devices?
c. What should we do to reasonably ensure that all devices function as intended?
d. Should the current service life requirements be modified?
e. If the allowable service life is reduced, would 5 years be an appropriate service life? If not, what would be an acceptable service life?
f. Should manufacturers periodically examine all of their self- rescue devices deployed in mines, including both external and internal components? How often? Should manufacturers certify that the examinations and tests have been conducted?
g. Should manufacturers develop and perform nondestructive tests that can be used in the field to detect degradation of self-rescuers?
h. Should mine operators be required to conduct more frequent examinations? If so, how frequent?
i. NIOSH and MSHA, in the long-term field evaluation program, work with mine operators to periodically obtain and test self-rescue devices that are deployed in mines. How should the sampling and testing methodology in this program be improved?
j. How should we involve interested parties in the early stages of problem identification and the subsequent problem resolution?
Self-rescuer manufacturers sell their products in international markets. Yet, each country has its own approval criteria which limits the potential for a free market.
- a. Should NIOSH/MSHA have as a goal to integrate international
standards into the self-rescuer device approval process?
b. Are there other approaches to inspection of self-rescue devices or to service life issues that other countries implement and that we should consider for our nation's mines?
c. Should we allow the use of self-rescue devices that are approved by other countries?
- a. Are there areas of the rule which should be clarified?
b. Should the rule explicitly require the cache of additional self- rescuers in accordance with a plan that MSHA approves?
c. Should MSHA require operators applying for a storage plan to submit any additional information, such as the travel distance and time to the storage cache?
- a. What should be the appropriate time necessary to reach the
b. Should we reduce the permitted travel time to caches?
c. Should we require the use of short-term duration SCSRs (anything less than 60 minutes) in lieu of using a FSR to reach a cache?
d. Where escape will take longer than 1 hour, should the standard for coal mines be revised to require caches of an adequate number of self-rescue devices to allow all miners to escape to the surface or a safe location?
e. MSHA and NIOSH, in conjunction with the MSHA state grants program, conducted a series of studies at various underground mines which determined the effect of heart rate as an indicator of workload during a mine escape. Should MSHA take this data into account in determining the location of these additional escape devices?
- a. Should SCSR requirements be expanded to other mines such as
gassy metal and nonmetal mines categories I through V (approximately 20
mines and 4,800 miners), the group of metal and nonmetal mines that
have the highest risk of fire and explosion from methane?
b. If expanded to these mines, should SCSR cache provisions be excluded where there are refuge chambers in metal and nonmetal mines?
Executive Order 12866 requires that regulatory agencies assess both the costs and benefits of intended regulations, and propose regulations on the basis that the benefits justify the costs. Regulatory agencies also are required to base decisions on the best reasonably obtainable scientific, technical, economic, and other data and information concerning the need for and the consequences of the proposed regulations.
We are exploring the development of a proposed rule addressing self-rescue devices. We anticipate that the benefit would be the prevention of fatalities which may occur if these devices are not used or not used as intended.
IV. Public Participation
We request comments on the specific issues addressed in this ANPRM. You are encouraged to be as specific as possible in addressing the issues and in suggesting alternatives. We also request that you include specific examples and cost estimates where possible to support your rationale. This will assist us in evaluating and analyzing your comments.
List of Subjects in 30 CFR Part 75
Mine safety and health, Underground mining.
Dated: June 29, 1999.
J. Davitt McAteer,
Assistant Secretary for Mine Safety and Health.
[FR Doc. 99-17092 Filed 7-6-99; 8:45 am]
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