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Notice to Mine Operators: Oxygen Activation on SCSRs

A problem has been discovered with the CSE SR-100 self-contained self-rescuer (SCSR) in which some units may not provide sufficient oxygen when the starter oxygen cylinder is activated. It is important for all miners to know what to do if the oxygen on their SCSR, regardless of model, fails to activate.

SCSRs are miners’ first line of defense to protect themselves from a contaminated mine atmosphere or low oxygen in the event of a mine fire, explosion, or gas inundation. However, if the SCSR fails to activate, the miner must decide the next course of action. In that event, NIOSH and MSHA believe the best option is to obtain another SCSR.

While there is a backup procedure to address this potential failure on chemical oxygen units, the manufacturer's Manual Start procedure, (a.k.a. the Cold Start procedure), it is more difficult to activate and it may take more time for the SCSR to generate sufficient oxygen to allow for a rapid escape.If another SCSR is not available, the manufacturer’s Manual Start procedure must be followed explicitly.

What mine operators should do immediately:

Provide a brief training session as soon as possible

Operators should provide miners with additional supplemental training to ensure that miners know what to do should their SCSR fail to activate. All miners should have ready access to a spare SCSR in case the first one they try to activate fails. Therefore, the following points should be taught:

  • If for any reason the oxygen on an SCSR fails to activate, miners should immediately set aside the unit and don another apparatus, if one is available. Only when no replacement unit is available should the Manual Start procedure be used with chemical oxygen units. The manufacturer’s instructions for Manual Start must be used and followed explicitly.
  • In any emergency, it is likely that miners may experience emotional and physical signs of stress, which is normal. They include rapid heart rate, dry mouth, fear, anxiety, feeling confused and/or overwhelmed, disorientation, and nausea. It is important to teach miners that these symptoms are not necessarily an indication of a failure in the unit.

Provide additional SCSRs

There should be sufficient numbers of SCSRs on working sections to provide extras should the oxygen fail to activate on a particular unit. However, outby workers, especially those who work alone, are sometimes known to have only one apparatus available - the one on their belt. Therefore, it is strongly recommended that mine operators make extra SCSRs readily available for outby workers should their initial units fail to activate.

For more information about this issue with CSE SR-100 SCSRs, see the Mine Safety and Health Administration home page.

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