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End Black Lung Frequently Asked Questions


These Frequently Asked Questions, received from stakeholders at meetings and via email, will be updated on an ongoing basis. If you have questions not answered here, please submit them to askMSHA@dol.gov.



  • Respirable Dust Standard
    • 1. Does the respirable dust standard remain at 2.0 mg/m3 on August 1, 2014? (70.100, 71.100, 90.100)
      • On August 1, 2014, the respirable dust standard remains at 2.0 mg/mł. The respirable dust standard will be lowered to 1.5 mg/m3 on August 1, 2016.
  • Sampling Devices
    • 1. When are mine operators required to use a control filter with the gravimetric sample (CMDPSU)? Are control filters required for every sample collected? Will this affect sampling the outby designated area (DA)?
      • Starting August 1, 2014, mine operators are required to use a control filter with each gravimetric sample (CMDPSU) collected. For instance, if a mine has 4 mechanized mining units (MMUs) and four gravimetric samples are taken for the designated occupations (DOs) then four control filters are required. For outby DAs, if one gravimetric sampler is placed in the outby area then one control filter is needed. If the outby DAs are located along a beltline with two or three outby DAs present, the operator can sample all of the DAs on the same shift and day and use one control filter to represent the outby area. The control filter must remain in the outby area for the entire shift.
    • 2. We have collected samples with the gravimetric sampler since the first requirement to do sampling. We have never needed to submit a control filter. Why do we now need to submit this control filter? What is the additional cost for the control filter?
      • A control filter is required as part of the sampling process to ensure the accuracy of the sample. The control filter allows for correction of any error that may be related to how the sample is handled during the sampling shift. The control filter is the same type of filter used for collecting the sample so the cost is the same. The only difference is how the 2 filters are handled as explained in the rule.
    • 3. The gravimetric sampler has previously been used to collect respirable coal mine dust samples on shifts for up to 8 hours. The final rule requires that I collect samples for the full shift, which is 10 hours at my mine. Does the gravimetric sampler run the full shift? If not, how do I sample the full shift? (70.201, 71.201, 90.201)
      • The approved gravimetric sampler with a fully-charged battery should operate for a 10-hour shift. If a sampler does not operate for the full shift, you should switch out the sampling pump at the sampling location. This pump exchange must be performed by a person certified in sampling.
    • 4. If a CPDM and CMDPSU are operated side-by-side and sampling the same occupation at the same time, will the results be the same for each sampler?
      • When two samplers are used at the same location and at the same time, and the inlets are separated by only a few inches, there will be variability, or differences in measured concentrations, related to location even when the samplers are identical, i.e., 2 CMDPSUs or 2 CPDMs, or when a CPDM and a CMDPSU are used. This variability does not affect the accuracy of the samplers. MSHA and NIOSH jointly approved the CPDM under 30 CFR Part 74 for use in underground coal mines, and determined that the device was accurate, precise, reliable, and durable under in-mine conditions.
    • 5. Can an operator use a CPDM while conducting compliance sampling with a CMDPSU or while MSHA is conducting sampling?
      • The use of the CPDM is a valuable tool that may be used in determining whether the respirable dust controls in use are adequately protecting miners. Miners and mine operators can use the data from the CPDM to assess the effectiveness of dust controls in different mining conditions and make adjustments to the controls or mining system to prevent miners from overexposure to respirable coal mine dust. For the CPDM to be used effectively as an engineering tool, the operator should use the CPDM more than just during operator or MSHA sampling. The District Manager will look closely at the mine’s ventilation plan to determine whether the plan adequately addresses the controls used. If the operator uses controls to maintain dust levels to achieve compliance with the standard based on the CPDM data, and those controls are not included in the ventilation plan, then the District Manager would consider requiring those controls in ventilation plan revisions, if necessary.
    • 6. Does the control filter cassette have to be removed from the plastic bag to be taken underground? Does this cassette remain capped?
      • Yes. The control filter cassette is removed from the plastic bag but remains capped during sampling, either underground or on the surface.
    • 7. Do the control filter cassettes have a tamper-resistant seal on the end cap from the factory?
      • No. There is no tamper-resistant seal on the end caps from the factory.
  • Sampling at Surface Operations
    • 1. Is sampling required at preparation plants? (71.1, 71.206)
      • Yes. The sampling requirements in 30 C.F.R. part 71 apply to all surface coal mines and surface work areas of underground coal mines.
    • 2. What do I do with the sampling pump if the bulldozer breaks down during the shift? Do I let the sampler run the entire shift? (71.201)
      • MSHA is not changing current procedures for sampling DWPs. The sampler stays with the DWP. If that DWP is assigned other duties because the bulldozer breaks down, the sampler goes with that DWP.
    • 3. I operate a surface mine and have never had a DWP under the previous standards. Why does the rule require sampling of all highwall drills and bulldozers?
      • The final rule requires each highwall drill operator to be sampled since historical sampling data and MSHA experience indicate that these positions have the greatest potential of being overexposed to respirable quartz and respirable coal mine dust. Bulldozer operators are DWPs since they have similar risks and need additional protection. However, under the final rule, some bulldozer operators could be exempt from sampling requirements. Mine operators with multiple bulldozer operators must sample the DWP exposed to the greatest respirable dust concentration in each work position performing the same activity or task at the same location at the mine and exposed to the same dust generation source.
    • 4. In identifying a DWP, am I required to identify the name of the miner in that position?
      • No, the miner’s name is not required. Under section 71.206(d), an operator must provide the District Manager with a list identifying the specific work positions where DWP samples will be collected.
    • 5. Who is going to determine the DWP numbers whether it be the highwall drill operator, the bulldozer operator, etc.? (71.206)
      • By October 1, 2014, mine operators must provide the District Manager with a list identifying the specific work positions where the DWP samples will be collected. MSHA will assign a DWP number to each entity submitted by the mine operator and will notify the mine operator.
    • 6. Does a miner have to operate a bulldozer for a certain amount of time each day to be a DWP? (71.206)
      • No, a DWP is not dependent on the amount of time it is operated. The DWPs are designated in the final rule and include highwall drill operators, bulldozer operators and any other work positions designated by the District Manager.
    • 7. How are highwall drill operators (DWPs) that work at various mine sites or work intermittently at a mine site sampled? (71.206)
      • Each highwall drill operator is a DWP and must be sampled at the mine where it operates, even if it operates for only one shift.
    • 8. If a mine operator runs a drill on all three shifts, is the operator required to sample the drill as a DWP on one shift per quarter or is the operator required to sample the drill on all three shifts? (71.206)
      • DWP samples are not required on all shifts. If a mine operator has a highwall drill that is operated on three shifts, the mine operator is required to collect one sample from that DWP on one shift per quarter.
    • 9. If I have multiple bulldozer operators at my mines performing different work, will I need to designate each bulldozer operator as a DWP? (71.206)
      • If each bulldozer operator at a mine site is performing a different function, each bulldozer operator must be established as a DWP in accordance with section 71.206(c)(2). For example, if one bulldozer operator pushes overburden and another bulldozer operator performs reclamation work at the same location then each bulldozer operator is a DWP. However, in accordance with section 71.206(d), if multiple bulldozer operators push overburden and multiple bulldozer operators perform reclamation work, then the mine operator must sample one bulldozer operator exposed to the greatest concentration of respirable dust pushing overburden and one bulldozer operator exposed to the greatest concentration of respirable dust performing reclamation work.
    • 10. If I have two bulldozers now, designated as DWP 003 and 004, must I sample one or both on August 1, 2014? (71.206)
      • All currently established DWPs will continue as DWPs on August 1, 2014.
    • 11. We have multiple pits under one identification number and one highwall drill operator and one bulldozer operator that go to several different pits. Do I still need one sample per quarter since the pits are under one mine ID? (71.206)
      • Sampling is based on the DWPs at each mine. If a highwall drill operator and a bulldozer operator work at multiple pits at your mine, the highwall drill operator is one DWP and the bulldozer operator is one DWP. You will need to collect one sample from each DWP at the mine.
    • 12. If the company has five bulldozer operators who are all performing the same duty and we selected the one bulldozer operator with the greatest dust exposures to be a DWP, under what circumstances would MSHA designate other specific work positions to be sampled? (71.206)
      • The District Manager may, under section 71.206(m), designate additional work positions for sampling at a surface coal mine and at a surface work area of an underground coal mine where a concentration of respirable dust exceeds 50 percent of the standard in effect at the time the sample is taken, or exceeds 50 percent of the reduced standard when quartz is present.
    • 13. When improvements are made to equipment that reduce respirable dust levels, can the DWP be reassigned or removed? (71.206)
      • The rule requires that all highwall drill operators be sampled as DWPs. At least one bulldozer operator must be sampled as a DWP and the mine operator must contact the District Manager regarding a change of DWP status.
    • 14. If a load-out operator runs a bulldozer for seven hours a day and then operates a loader to refill stockpiles, does a DWP need to be assigned? Is the individual considered a DWP because a certain amount of time during the shift was spent operating a dozer? (71.206)
      • If a load-out operator runs a bulldozer for seven hours a day and then operates a loader for stockpile refills, the designated work position is the bulldozer operator. The DWP must be sampled for the full shift and includes normal duties.
    • 15. Miners doing reclamation work at a site, will they be assigned a Designated Work Position (DWP)? (71.206)
      • If reclamation work is done at a mine, then the operator must sample the DWPs listed in the final rule which include bulldozer operators and other work positions designated by the District Manager.
    • 16. What should a mine operator do if a piece of equipment is off mine property when sampling needs to be conducted? Does the mine operator have to notify MSHA when a piece of equipment is off mine property? (71.209) (at underground mines, 70.212)
      • Yes, the mine operator must report a change in operational status each time the equipment is moved off mine property. The status change has to be reported within three working days after the equipment leaves mine property.
    • 17. If a quarterly sample from a DWP exceeds the respirable dust standard, and that DWP is not always on mine property, how are we supposed to collect 5 follow-up samples from that DWP? (71.206)
      • On notification from MSHA that a DWP sample exceeds the standard, the operator must, within 15 calendar days of notification, sample the DWP on each normal work shift until five samples are taken in accordance with section 71.206(g). If the DWP leaves the mine site before all five samples are collected (e.g., two out of five samples were collected), the mine operator must report a change in operational status and continue sampling the DWP on the first shift the DWP returns until five valid representative samples are taken.
    • 18. When a DWP is found to be out of compliance, does the operator have to establish a separate plan for the surface?(71.300)
      • If you have a DWP that is out of compliance on the surface, you must submit a separate dust control plan for that entity within 15 days after termination of the citation in accordance with section 71.300. Under section 71.301, the District Manager will approve this dust control plan.
    • 19. If a sample from a bulldozer operator exceeds the standard, where should the five additional samples be taken if the bulldozer has been moved to a different location on or off the mine. Does the mine operator sample the machine, the person, or the location? (71.206)
      • If a sample from the bulldozer operator exceeds the standard and the bulldozer is moved to another location either on or off the mine, the five additional DWP samples will be taken on the bulldozer or bulldozer operator working closest to the location or activity that was being performed when the standard was exceeded.
    • 20. In the past, bulldozer operators were removed from DWP status after several sampling periods. What happens after August 1st? Will they be redesignated as DWPs? (71.206)
      • By October 1, 2014, the final rule requires each mine operator to provide the District Manager a list identifying the work positions where DWP samples will be collected. MSHA will review the list and may designate additional bulldozer operators as DWPs.
  • Sampling at Underground Operations
    • 1. If a miner does not complete the normal shift for the occupation, does the Sampling Devices stay with the miner or does the device transfer to the machine? (70.201)
      • MSHA requires sampling of occupations at underground coal mines for the full shift. For example, if a miner operating a continuous mining machine leaves the working section before the normal shift for that occupation ends, than the Sampling Devices is transferred to the miner who takes over the operation of the continuous mining machine. The Sampling Devices stays with the occupation throughout the entire shift.
    • 2. August 1, 2014 is the middle of a bimonthly period for mechanized mining units (MMUs). If the operator completes the MMU bimonthly sampling prior to August 1, 2014, will that satisfy the sampling requirement or will additional samples be required that follow the new rule guidelines after August 1? (70.206)
      • If a mine operator has completed bimonthly sampling of MMUs under the existing standards by August 1, 2014, the existing sampling requirements are satisfied. The first bi-monthly sampling period of MMUs under the new rule is September 1-October 31, 2014.
    • 3. If we have a super section with two MMUs and we have two shuttle cars behind each continuous mining machine and another shuttle car between the two MMUs, how do you sample the shuttle cars? (70.208)
      • If you are using blowing face ventilation or you have split ventilation providing air to both units, you must sample the shuttle cars as ODOs. Each ODO must be sampled with that MMU. If there is a shuttle car that travels between both MMUs during production, an operator must sample that shuttle car according to one of the following sampling procedures: 1) The shuttle car that travels between each MMU can be given a unique number so that it can be identified as the shuttle car that services both MMUs. Under this sampling procedure, the operator of the shuttle car that travels between each MMU can wear one CPDM, both MMUs’ shuttle cars must be sampled at the same time; or, 2) The operator can sample all shuttle cars on one MMU and then sample all shuttle cars on the other MMU. Under this sampling procedure, sampling does not occur at the same time and the shuttle car that travels between both MMUs is sampled twice.
    • 4. I use blowing face ventilation. Why do I need to sample my shuttle cars while those using exhausting face ventilation are not required? (70.208)
      • The need to sample shuttle cars on blowing face ventilation is because these occupations are in the return air from the continuous mining machine and are subject to exposure to higher concentrations of respirable dust.
    • 5. I am in the middle of collecting my 15 samples for the DO when the continuous mining machine breaks down. It will take 3 days to repair the machine. Do I have to start the consecutive shift sampling all over? (70.208, 70.212)
      • The rule requires that MSHA be notified of a change in operational status that affects sampling of the mechanized mining unit (MMU). MSHA must be notified within 3 working days after the status change has occurred. If you notify MSHA that this MMU is in nonproducing status, then the consecutive shift sampling will be put on hold. Once the equipment is repaired and you begin operating the MMU, you must notify MSHA that the MMU is back in producing status. You must immediately resume your consecutive shift sampling to obtain the 15 samples required. This process allows you to resume the consecutive shift sampling requirement where you left off.
    • 5. MSHA is making me put a lot more rock dust in my mine. How am I supposed to meet this rock dust requirement and still comply with the new respirable dust standard on each shift? (70.100, 70.101)
      • Rock dust is required to prevent coal mine dust explosions. The respirable dust samples from underground mines do not reflect an increase in respirable dust levels with rock dusting increases since 2010. Rather, the average respirable dust concentrations have been dropping steadily since 2010. Mine operators should obtain from suppliers rock dust that has as little respirable size particles as possible and exercise care in the application of the rock dust to limit the exposure of miners who are working downwind. These actions will reduce or eliminate the potential impact on respirable coal mine dust levels.
  • Quartz
    • 1. Can operators do optional quartz sampling after 8/1/14? (70.100, 70.101)
      • Starting August 1, 2014, MSHA will no longer accept operator quartz samples for analysis. MSHA will analyze only MSHA inspector samples for quartz to establish the dust standard.
    • 2. If the 0.1 mg/m3 (100 µg/m3) quartz standard is exceeded, will MSHA issue a citation? (70.101, 71.101, 90.101)
      • No. Quartz will be addressed as it is under the existing standard, that is, through a reduced dust standard.
    • 3. Is the citation level for a reduced respirable dust standard when quartz is present based on the new Excessive Concentration Values (ECV)? (70.101, 71.101, 90.101)
      • Yes, on August 1, 2014, Excessive Concentration Values (ECV) will be used to determine compliance on all respirable dust samples.
    • 4. Under the existing standards for underground coal mines, a new reduced standard due to the presence of quartz begins on the first production shift during the next bimonthly sampling cycle. Will that continue under the final rule? (70.206, 70.207, 70.208, 70.209, 71.206, 90.207)
      • No. Under the final rule, when the respirable dust standard is changed due to the presence of quartz, the new reduced standard becomes effective 7 days after the date of notification of the new standard by MSHA.
    • 5. If a reduced standard due to the presence of quartz is in effect when MSHA takes a dust sample, will the sample be subject to the standard in effect on the day the sample was taken? (70.101, 71.101, 90.101)
      • The final rule does not change MSHA’s procedure for evaluating compliance with a reduced respirable dust standard. The sample will be subject to the standard in effect on the day the MSHA sample was taken.
    • 6. Under the final rule, operator samples will not be analyzed for quartz. Will MSHA inspectors be using gravimetric samplers (CMDPSU)? (70.101, 71.101, 90.101)
      • Yes, MSHA will use gravimetric samplers when analyzing sampling results for quartz.
    • 7. If we are on a reduced standard due to quartz on July 31, 2014, what happens on August 1, 2014? (70.101, 71.101, 90.101)
      • If a reduced standard is in effect on July 31, 2014, the same reduced standard is in effect on August 1, 2014.
    • 8. How often will samples be analyzed for quartz? (70.101, 71.101, 90.101)
      • MSHA samples will be analyzed for quartz once each quarter.
    • 9. How is a reduced standard established based on the percentage of quartz? (70.101, 71.101, 90.101)
      • A reduced standard is based on the formula in the final rule which is the same formula in the existing standards. The standard in the final rule is designed to limit a miner’s exposure to respirable quartz to 0.1 mg/m3 (100 µg/m3) based on the existing 2.0 mg/m3 respirable dust standard.
  • Compliance/Corrective Action/Citations
    • 1. What are the ECVs? Why are there so many different ECVs? (70.206, 70.207, 70.208, 70.209, 71.206, 90.207)
      • The ECVs (Excessive Concentration Values) are the levels which have been determined to show, with 95% confidence, that a single sample or the average of a specific number of samples has exceeded the applicable respirable dust standard. There are 2 ECV tables in parts 70, 71, and 90. Tables 70-1, 71-1 and 90-1 apply to single full-shift samples using either the gravimetric (CMDPSU) or CPDM sampler. Tables 70-2, 71-2 and 90-2 apply to averages of more than one single full-shift sample using either the CMDPSU or CPDM.
    • 2. What corrective actions am I required to take? (70.206, 70.207, 70.208, 70.209, 71.206, 90.207)
      • Acceptable corrective actions that would lower dust exposures are determined by the mine operator based on an evaluation as to the cause of the high dust concentration. In most cases, corrective actions include increasing air, water pressure or water sprays; replacing or unplugging water sprays and tightening ventilation controls; more frequent checking and cleaning of dust filters or dust collectors; or a different placement of ventilation controls or water sprays; or repositioning of a miner. It may require increased checking of the dust controls during the shift to make sure they are in place. It could be monitoring with CPDMs to identify what may be causing excessive dust levels and correcting the conditions found. These are examples of the several options for mine operators to consider.
    • 3. Since it takes days to get CMDPSU sample results from the MSHA lab, when do I take corrective action? (70.206, 70.207, 70.208, 70.209, 71.206, 90.207)
      • When you receive notice from MSHA of the sampling results.
    • 4. MSHA has stated that it will use a single full-shift sample to make a noncompliance determination. If multiple occupations are found to meet or exceed the ECV, will MSHA issue a citation for each overexposure? (72.800)
      • If multiple MSHA samples taken at roughly the same time indicate overexposures, MSHA will evaluate the dust generation sources. If the dust is generated from a common source (i.e., the operation of the continuous mining machine), then one citation would be issued listing all overexposures in the citation. However, when dust is generated from multiple sources requiring multiple corrective actions, then more than one citation may be issued. For an MMU using split ventilation, if excessive dust levels are found on two occupations (e.g., the shuttle car operator and the roof bolting machine operator) that operate in different splits of intake air, then two citations would be issued. Both citations would require corrective actions to reduce dust levels in the two different areas of the MMU.
    • 5. What controls or changes would have to be made to terminate the citation for meeting or exceeding the ECV? (70.206, 70.207, 70.208, 70.209, 71.206, 90.207)
      • It depends on the conditions or circumstances. Dust control parameters in the approved Mine Ventilation Plan, including revised parameters that reflect control measures to abate the citation must be followed by the mine operator. Such measures may involve more air; more water pressure; addition of water sprays or changes in spray design, patterns or locations; improved dust filtering; adding shield tip sprays or shield mist sprays for shield tops; using water infusion in coal blocks to be mined; and other engineering controls.
    • 6. Can a mine operator’s corrective action consist of new technology? (70.206, 70.207, 70.208, 70.209, 71.206, 90.207)
      • Yes. The corrective action can consist of new technology. The corrective action must be recorded in a book. The mine operator is in the best position to decide if the ventilation plan needs to be revised to incorporate the new technology.
    • 7. Is retraining an employee considered a corrective action? (70.206, 70.207, 70.208, 70.209, 71.206, 90.207)
      • Providing training to a miner may be considered a corrective action. Engineering controls and work practices such as repositioning a miner may be used to address any sample that meets or exceeds the ECV. Under some circumstances, miners may need additional training if they have failed to use appropriate controls already provided or have used those controls ineffectively. For example, retraining a miner on how to properly hang a ventilation curtain may be a corrective action if it results in lowering the dust concentration to the standard.
    • 8. How do I know what corrective action to take if I do not remember what the conditions were during the sampling? (70.206, 70.207, 70.208, 70.209, 71.206, 90.207)
      • The results of the On-Shift Examinations required by the final rule will provide mine operators with additional information on the type of corrective actions needed. Mine operators are in the best position to know, and evaluate what the conditions were at the time of the sampling. Mine operators will be able to review the On-Shift Examination record of the shift on which the excessive dust concentration occurred. This review will help mine operators identify the cause of the excessive concentration when sampling was conducted so that immediate corrective actions can be taken to eliminate the problem.
    • 9. What action is required if I receive a citation for meeting or exceeding the ECV? (70.206, 70.207, 70.208, 70.209, 71.206, 90.207)
      • The final rule requires that you: (1) provide respiratory protection to affected miners,(2) take immediate corrective action to comply with the respirable dust standard, (3) record the corrective action taken, and (4) begin sampling within 8 days after the citation is issued. The citation will be terminated when each of the required abatement samples complies with the respirable dust standard. At underground coal mines, revised dust control parameters as part of the Mine Ventilation Plan must be submitted and approved by MSHA.
    • 10. Is fit testing required when operators provide respiratory equipment to miners? (72.700)
      • No. Respirator training is required that includes the care, fit, use, and limitations of each type of respirator that is made available.
    • 11. What happens if I don't start sampling within 8 days after I receive a citation? (70.206, 70.207, 70.208, 70.209, 71.206, 90.207)
      • Unless you have notified MSHA and received an extension of time, it is a violation.
    • 12. If one sample meets or exceeds the ECV, is the immediate corrective action required to be included in the Mine Ventilation Plan? (70.206, 70.207, 70.208, 70.209)
      • No. However, if the corrective action taken after one sample meets or exceeds the ECV is a type of control that should be implemented on all shifts to maintain dust levels to comply with the standards, then this action should be included in the Mine Ventilation Plan.
    • 13. When is a ventilation plan revision required? (70.206, 70.207, 70.208, 70.209)
      • A ventilation plan revision is required after a citation is issued. To terminate the citation, the operator must take five valid representative samples that are all at or below the applicable standard, the operator must submit to the District Manager revised dust control parameters as part of the Mine Ventilation Plan, and the revisions must be approved by the District Manager. The revised parameters must show the control measures used by the operator to lower the concentration to at or below the standard.
    • 13. If one DWP sample taken by a mine operator exceeds the ECV, the operator takes corrective action, and records the corrective action, does the operator have to send a respirable dust control plan to the MSHA district manager? (71.300)
      • No. The operator needs to submit a respirable dust control plan specific to the DWP to the District Manager if a citation is issued and terminated.
    • 14. Will I be cited for not complying with the mine ventilation plan if the corrective action taken wasn’t in the plan? (70.206, 70.207, 70.208, 70.209)
      • No. The mine operator will not be cited if the corrective action is not in the mine ventilation plan.
    • 15. If we have one sample that exceeds the ECV and we take a specific corrective action, do we have to continue with this corrective action on each subsequent shift or just for this one occurrence? (70.206, 70.207, 70.208, 70.209)
      • It depends on the circumstances. If you determine that this corrective action is necessary to continuously maintain dust levels below the ECV, the corrective action taken should be included as part of the mine ventilation plan. However, if you determine that the corrective action is not needed to continuously maintain dust levels below the ECV, the corrective action does not have to be included in the ventilation plan.
    • 16. How are we supposed to know if corrective actions that are immediately implemented are adequate? (70.206, 70.207, 70.208, 70.209, 71.206, 90.207)
      • The corrective actions are adequate if the results are in compliance with the respirable dust standards. The standards require that if a sample exceeds the ECV, the operator must immediately take corrective action to lower the dust level to the standard. However, if the gravimetric sampler (CMDPSU) is used for sampling, the operator must take the corrective action after MSHA notifies the operator of the sampling results. If using a CMDPSU, operators can re-sample to confirm compliance. If a CPDM is used, the operator will know the results at the end of the sampling shift.
    • 17. If one bimonthly gravimetric (CMDPSU) sample exceeds the ECV and then 4 bimonthly samples do not exceed the ECV, what would my corrective action be? Do we have to repeat sampling? (70.206)
      • If one out of the five bimonthly gravimetric (CMDPSU) samples exceeds the ECV, the mine operator must take corrective action to lower the concentration of respirable dust to the standard. The operator should review the on-shift record to determine the cause of the overexposure and what, if any, appropriate corrective action is necessary. If none of the remaining 4 samples exceed the ECV, the mine operator does not have to repeat sampling.
  • Engineering Controls/Best Practices
    • 1. What controls does MSHA think I can use to lower the dust levels in my mine? I am doing all I can now. (70.206, 70.207, 70.208, 70.209, 71.206, 90.207)
      • Existing engineering controls are available that can be used to reduce the respirable coal mine dust concentrations in the mine. MSHA has reviewed the engineering controls in use on many inspection surveys to evaluate whether using additional engineering controls would have likely reduced the dust concentration to levels at or below the standard. Survey results indicated that additional or adjustment to controls would likely reduce respirable dust concentrations. MSHA determined that many MMUs could: increase air quantity, air velocity, the number of water sprays, and water pressure; change the type of sprays and/or direction of sprays, balance the quantity of air delivered to the face with the scrubber air quantity; change the type of screen that is used in the scrubber system, and/or change from blowing face ventilation to exhausting face ventilation. Changing dust controls was an option at all MMUs that MSHA reviewed. On some MMUs that used blowing face ventilation and a scrubber, the air quantity provided was less than the scrubber air quantity, causing an imbalanced system and the potential for respirable dust overexposures. Because the amount of air available at the last open crosscut will be greater than at the face, the air could easily be increased at the face to provide greater protection of miners' health. The number of water sprays, while important, is not the only spray variable affecting dust control; the location, flow rate, spray pattern, and droplet size are variables that impact dust levels where miners work. MSHA will provide compliance assistance on dust controls that are available and practical and hold workshops for interested stakeholders to disseminate this information.
    • 2. Why not use airstream helmets or respirators or other personal protective devices? (72.700)
      • The Mine Act requires that mine operators provide miners with a safe environment. The Mine Act specifically states, “Use of respirators shall not be substituted for environmental control measures in the active workings.” MSHA believes that reducing the amount of dust miners are exposed to is the best way to ensure a healthful work place for miners, as the Mine Act requires. Operators are not only allowed to use respirators as a supplemental control, they are required to make NIOSH-approved respiratory equipment available to all miners affected by an overexposure as determined by either an MSHA- or operator-collected respirable dust sample. Personal protective equipment, such as airstream helmets or respirators, are supplemental controls that operators may use, but they are not a substitute for engineering controls – and engineering controls exist and are used today that can maintain respirable dust levels at or below the standard.
  • Recordkeeping
    • 1. The rule says I have to record the amount of material produced on each MMU during each production shift. How am I supposed to determine that without belt scales? (70.201)
      • The final rule requires that the production of material be recorded for each MMU on each shift. If you do not have scales located to provide that information, then an alternative method must be used. An alternative method may be to determine during each shift the distance of advance along with a calculation to transform that distance into tonnage based on the material being mined (total material including coal and rock).
    • 2. If I have a shift on which I normally produce but for some reason I do not produce any material, then do I record zero production and include that in the 30-shift average for determining a normal production shift? (70.201)
      • *Revised July 1, 2014: Under section 70.201(g), the operator is required to record the amount of run-of-mine material (coal and rock) produced by each MMU during each shift. Zero production will not be included to establish the 30-shift average for determining a normal production shift. The 30-shift average represents typical production levels and mining conditions.
    • 3. The record of corrective action taken is to be certified by the mine foreman or equivalent mine official. Who is an equivalent mine official?
      • As with other existing MSHA Recordkeeping requirements, an equivalent mine official is any person with authority, who is informed of mine conditions, and who can implement any necessary changes to maintain compliance with respirable dust standards.
    • 4. What is a secure book? Can I purchase a diary or do I have to use a book issued by MSHA?
      • A secure record book is one that is not susceptible to alteration. MSHA does not issue record books.
    • 5. Can records of shift length and production for each shift be electronically recorded?
      • Yes, you are allowed to electronically record the shift length and production for each shift provided the records are secure and not susceptible to alteration.
    • 6. Do the records have to be kept at the mine site, or can they be at the central office?
      • As with other existing MSHA Recordkeeping requirements, the regulations require that these records must be made readily available to MSHA inspectors.
    • 7. The certified person who assembles the pumps does not have to be the same certified person that does the On-Shift Examinations(s) of the pump and signs the dust card, is that a correct interpretation? If not, someone will be working a 14 to 15 hour shift.
      • Yes, the certified person who assembles the sampling pumps does not need to be the same certified person who conducts the On-Shift Examination.
    • 8. We assume that the practice of requiring a shift to be 480 minutes with a +/- 15 minute leeway will go away on August 1, 2014 and the dust card will be filled in with the exact minutes that the sample runs portal to portal. Is that correct?
      • Correct.
  • Training and Certification
    • 1. I am currently certified by MSHA to collect samples. Do I have to attend a class and pass the test to be certified again? How long is my certification good? (70.202, 70.203, 71.202, 71.203, 90.202, 90.203)
      • Those persons currently certified to collect respirable dust samples under the previous standards will continue to be certified under the new requirements and do not need to take a class to continue their certification. Persons currently certified must be recertified every 3 years under the new rule. The certification for Sampling and the certification for Maintenance and Calibration are good for 3 years. You must recertify by taking and passing the MSHA tests.
    • 2. Who conducts the certification training? Are MSHA personnel who conduct sampling certified? (70.202, 70.203, 71.202, 71.203, 90.202, 90.203)
      • MSHA conducts the certification training and MSHA personnel who conduct sampling are certified. MSHA provides two separate courses of instruction: (1) certification for respirable dust sampling; and (2) certification for maintenance and calibration of coal mine dust sampling equipment. Training classes are conducted at the National Mine Health and Safety Academy, at local MSHA district and field offices, and at the mine site upon request to the local coal district office.
    • 3. What does it take to successfully pass the certification test for sampling with the gravimetric sampler (CMDPSU)? (70.202, 71.202, 90.202)
      • To successfully pass the certification test for sampling with the gravimetric sampler (CMDPSU), you must answer correctly 80% of the 154 questions on the written examination and complete 100% of the practical portion of the test. This practical portion includes filling out a dust data card, assembling the sampling pump assembly, and performing pre-inspection checks of the sampling pump.
    • 4. If I get certified for sampling with the gravimetric sampler (CMDPSU) and for maintenance and calibration on the gravimetric sampler before August 1, 2014, is it correct that these certifications are good for the next three years? (70.202, 71.202, 90.202)
      • If you are certified for sampling with the gravimetric sampler and for maintenance and calibration on the gravimetric sampler any time before August 1, 2014 (the effective date of the rule), these certifications are good for 3 years after the effective date of the rule, which is until August 1, 2017.
  • On-Shift Examination
    • 1. Under the § 75.362 On-Shift Examination requirements, what does the examination include? Are there other new On-Shift Examination requirements? (75.362)
      • Like the existing rule, the examination must include air quantities and velocities; water pressures and flow rates; excessive leakage in the water delivery system; water spray numbers and orientations; section ventilation and control device placement. New requirements in the final rule require the following dust control parameters to be examined: roof bolting machine dust collector vacuum levels; scrubber air flow rate; work practices required by the ventilation plan; and any other dust suppression measures. The final rule also includes requirements for: making and retaining a record of the examination results and any corrective action taken, the certified person directing the examination to certify that the exam was made and to verify the examination results; and the mine foreman or equivalent mine official to countersign each examination record.
    • 2. What is an acceptable On-Shift Examination record? (75.362)
      • Under section 75.362 (a)(2), the operator is required to record the results of the On-Shift Examination and the results of the corrective action taken. The record should include the specific measurements and observations made of the dust control parameters specified in the ventilation plan. The record must also include any deficiencies and corrective actions taken.Specific measurements of the air velocity and quantity, water pressure and flow rates are not required if continuous monitoring of these controls is used and indicates that the dust controls are functioning properly.
    • 3. My mines use continuous mining machines with a scrubber. The scrubber “makes” air in the face. Why does the rule require me to determine the air in the mining face with the scrubber turned off? (75.325)
      • A dust scrubber does not “make” air. The scrubber is a supplemental dust control device and does aid in directing the air provided in the face area. However, the scrubber can only work with the air that is provided to the face. It is important that the scrubber be balanced with the ventilating air provided to the area where the continuous mining machine is working. The air provided by the MMU ventilation system must be determined without the aid of the scrubber so that the scrubber can be provided with the amount of air for which it is rated and dust-laden air is not recirculated.
  • Mine Ventilation Plan
    • 1. If the dust parameters are the same on every MMU, is there a need to have a separate Mine Ventilation Plan for each MMU? (75.371)
      • Yes. The general plan does not address the differences between MMUs and different mining machines. No two units are exactly alike and those differences must be addressed. Specifying general controls does not let miners and management personnel know what specifically works to control respirable dust concentrations for a specific mining machine in a specific location in the mine.
    • 2. I have had an approved ventilation plan for years with all my dust controls specified such that it covered all MMUs in the mine. Now MSHA is requiring that I provide the controls for each MMU. Why is it necessary to cover each MMU when there is nothing wrong with the general plan? (75.371)
      • The general plan does not address the differences between MMUs and different mining machines. Generally, no two units are exactly alike and those differences must be addressed. Specifying general controls does not let miners and management personnel know what specifically works to control respirable dust concentrations for a specific mining machine in a specific location in the mine. In appropriate circumstances, the controls for one MMU may be the same as or similar to another MMU’s controls, but the controls must be specified for each MMU.
  • Medical Surveillance
    • 1. What are the new requirements for Medical Surveillance and how will they be implemented? (72.100)
      • The new MSHA rule adds spirometry testing to the existing chest x-ray examination program, and expands health surveillance program coverage to include workers at surface coal mines, in addition to previously eligible underground coal mines. CDC/NIOSH is responsible for implementing the expanded health surveillance program. Although underground coal mines are required to post a NIOSH-approved health examination plan for underground miners every five years, on August 1, 2014, MSHA will extend health examination requirements to all surface mines. Mine operators can currently submit Mine Plans using the currently available form, Coal Mine Operator's Plan Form, available at http://www.cdc.gov/niosh/topics/surveillance/ORDS/CoalWorkersHealthSurvProgram.html Contractors completing the form do not need to indicate at which mines they are operating, and should indicate the number of miles from the location of the contractor to the X-Ray Facility. For Surface Operators and Contractors, leave the x-ray begin and end dates blank. NIOSH will assign these dates for all new plans. The following questions and answers provide important guidance for coal operators, both underground and surface.
    • 2. We currently have a NIOSH-approved plan for providing miners with chest x-rays, which includes occupational history, under the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) regulations at 42 CFR part 37. What else do we need to do under the final rule regarding the requirements for periodic examinations? (72.100)
      • Under the final rule, coal mine operators must develop and submit for approval to NIOSH a plan in accordance with NIOSH’s regulations under 42 CFR part 37, which contain procedures for providing miners with the examinations required in Section 72.100(a) of MSHA’s final rule. The examinations must be provided at no cost to the miner and include chest x-rays, spirometry, occupational history, and symptom assessment. They must be done at facilities approved by NIOSH. Mine operators must also submit to NIOSH a roster specifying the name and current address of each miner covered by the plan. Existing 42 CFR part 37 includes provisions for chest x-rays, occupational history and approval of x-ray facilities but does not address spirometry, symptom assessment or approval of spirometry facilities. HHS is drafting its regulations to include spirometry, symptom assessment, and the approval of spirometry facilities. Until the new spirometry requirements are in place, a coal mine operator with an existing NIOSH-approved plan does not need to revise or resubmit that plan (except according to the existing plan’s expiration schedule).
    • 3. We do not currently have a NIOSH-approved plan. What do we need to do? (72.100)
      • A coal mine operator without an existing NIOSH-approved plan, including a surface coal mine operator, must develop and submit for approval to NIOSH a plan in accordance with existing 42 CFR part 37 and submit a roster of the name and current address of each miner covered by the plan. Under 42 CFR § 37.4(a), NIOSH provides a 60-day period for an operator without an approved plan to submit a plan. Therefore, as of September 30, 2014 (within 60 days of August 1, 2014), all coal mine operators must either have an existing NIOSH-approved plan or have submitted a plan to NIOSH for approval under existing 42 CFR part 37. New mines opening after August 1, 2014 would need to submit a plan within 60 days of opening.
    • 4. What examinations do we need to provide to new miners? (72.100)
      • Effective August 1, 2014, all coal mine operators must provide all new miners with the mandatory examinations consisting of chest x-rays and occupational history within 30 days after beginning employment. However, on or after August 1, 2014, for a miner beginning employment at a mine without an existing NIOSH-approved plan, MSHA will allow 30 days after NIOSH approves the plan to provide the mandatory examinations. All miners beginning employment on or after August 1 but before the date of a plan approval must be given the mandatory examinations within 30 days after the date of the plan approval. All miners beginning employment on or after August 1 at a mine with an approved plan must be given the mandatory examinations within 30 days after beginning employment.
    • 5. What do we need to do when HHS revises its regulations at 42 CFR part 37?
      • After the new NIOSH spirometry requirements are in place, and facilities become certified to conduct spirometry examinations, MSHA will notify coal mine operators that they must: (1) submit to NIOSH plan revisions to comply with the new spirometry requirements, including the names of NIOSH-approved spirometry facilities; and (2) provide all miners beginning employment on or after August 1 with the spirometry examination and symptom assessment within 30 days after beginning employment or, if the plan revision has not been approved as of the employment date, within 30 days after the date NIOSH approves the plan revision. The plan submittal form is available from NIOSH and MSHA.
  • Contractors
    • 1. Does the final rule apply to construction workers or Contractors working on mine property?
      • Yes, any individual working in a mine is a miner under the Mine Act and the requirements of the final rule apply.
    • 2. If a contractor is not compliant with the final rule, does the mine operator have the authority to shut down the contractor’s operation? Is MSHA giving the operator the authority to shut down the contractor if one sample is not compliant?
      • The final rule does not change any existing relationship between an operator and a contractor with respect to responsibility for compliance.
    • 3. A contractor may not have a permanent bulletin board to post sample results. Who should post the sampling results?
      • The final rule does not change the existing method of posting sampling results. Contractors should continue to post sampling results as they are currently doing. The contractor can either make arrangements to have their own bulletin board or use the mine operator’s board.
    • 4. Is the contractor or the mine operator responsible for collecting dust samples? What is the sampling requirement for Contractors? Who will MSHA notify if noncompliance is determined, the mine operator or the contractor, or both?
      • The final rule does not change who is responsible for collecting dust samples -- either the production operator or the independent contractor operator may collect dust samples. In addition, the final rule does not change how MSHA provides notice of the sampling results. MSHA will continue its current system of notifying the person listed on the operator’s legal ID form for receiving respirable dust sampling information. The MSHA report containing dust sampling results must be posted for at least 31 days on the mine bulletin board.
    • 5. Will a contractor who regularly works at a mine collecting respirable dust samples be assigned any kind of position to be sampled?
      • No. Under the final rule, a contractor who regularly collects samples will not be designated as a DWP at surface mines, or DA, DO, or ODO at underground mines.
  • Part 90
    • 1. How should a mine operator handle the situation if a Part 90 miner refuses to transfer or switch positions? (90.102, 90.104)
      • Part 90 miners would have the same rights and responsibilities under the final rule as they do under the existing Part 90 standard.