Thursday, August 20, 2015

After First Year, MSHA Sees Improvement With Respirable Coal Dust Rule

This month marks the 1-year anniversary of MSHA's respirable coal dust ruleMSHA reports that results for the first year show that “compliance is achievable and, more importantly, the nation’s coal miners are better protected from debilitating and deadly black lung than ever before.” The agency reports that of the 62,000 dust samples that were collected from surface and underground coal mines this past year, only 1.1% of the samples exceeded the dust concentration limit.

“While some insisted that mines would be unable to comply with the requirements of the rule, sampling results have proved that assumption is incorrect,” says MSHA’s Assistant Secretary of Labor Joseph Main.

Since Phase 1 of the rule is in place, MSHA reports that it will begin to host a series of stakeholder outreach meetings in preparation for Phase II. Starting on Feb. 1, 2016, continuous personal dust monitors must be used to monitor underground coal mine jobs that are exposed to the highest respirable dust concentrations, and for miners with evidence of Black Lung disease. The devices will provide dust exposure results in real time. In addition, during Phase II, the rule’s increased sampling frequency provisions will go into effect.

The third and final phase goes into effect August 2016 and will lower the dust concentration limit from 2.0 to 1.5 mg/m3 of air.