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U.S. Department of Labor

Mine Safety and Health Administration
1100 Wilson Boulevard
Arlington, Virginia 22209-3939
EFFECTIVE DATE:   March 25, 2011 EXPIRATION DATE: 03/31/2013
(Reissue of P09-V-09)              


                    Administrator for
                    Coal Mine Safety and Health

                      Administrator for
                      Metal and Nonmetal Mine Safety and Health

SUBJECT:     Guidance on Issuance of Orders Under Sections 103(j) and (k)
                    of the Mine Act

This Program Policy Letter (PPL) is intended for Mine Safety and Health Administration personnel, mine operators, miners' representatives, independent contractors, and other interested persons.

The purpose of this PPL is to establish a uniform policy for the issuance of section 103(j) and 103(k) orders (orders issued under 30 U.S.C. 813(j) or (k) of the Federal Mine Safety and Health Act of 1977 (Mine Act)) in accidents where a Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) Authorized Representative is not present at the mine site.

Upon learning of a mine emergency, unless MSHA is already present, MSHA should verbally issue a section 103(j) order to the operator, including initial instructions, as soon as possible. The order, including any instructions, should be reduced to writing and transmitted to the operator as soon as practicable. The order should be written so as to protect all persons engaged in the rescue and recovery operation, as well as any other persons on-site.

Upon MSHA's arrival on-site and following assessment of conditions, the section 103(j) order, including all instructions, may be modified to reflect that MSHA is now proceeding under the authority of section 103(k) of the Mine Act. Parties on-site should be informed that any activities that are rescue or recovery related will be permitted through subsequent modifications of the section 103(k) order. The section 103(k) order is intended to protect all persons on-site, including those involved in the emergency operation or accident investigation. As such, all parties on-site are subject to the section 103(k) order and any subsequent modifications. Each proposed action should be reviewed by the designated MSHA person on-site before the section 103(k) order is modified and before the action is commenced. MSHA has the authority to issue a section 103(k) order unilaterally. However, every effort should be made to gain consensus among the parties involved to obtain the safest and most effective outcome.

MSHA has historically made greater use of orders under section 103(k) rather than section 103(j). A section 103(j) order is appropriate in certain circumstances; however, MSHA has the authority to issue discrete section 103(j) orders directing operators to take specific actions and it may do so without taking complete control over rescue and recovery operations.

Section 103(j) provides:

Section 103(k) provides:

Sections 103(j) and 103(k) of the Federal Mine Safety and Health Act of 1977, as amended, 30 U.S.C. 801 et seq. at §§ 813(j) and 813(k).

Filing Instructions This policy letter should be filed behind the tab marked "Program Policy Letters" at the back of the Program Policy Manual.

Internet Availability
This program policy letter may be viewed on the World Wide Web by accessing the MSHA home page ( and choosing "Compliance Info" and "Program Policy Letters."

Issuing Office and Contact Person
Coal Mine Safety and Health
Terry L. Bentley, Accident Investigations Program Manager
(202) 693-9521

Metal and Nonmetal Mine Safety and Health, Safety Division
Michael Hancher, Accident Investigations Program Manager
(202) 693-9600

MSHA Program Policy Manual Holders
MSHA Special Interest Groups
Coal Mine Operators and Metal and Nonmetal Mine Operators