Mining Publication: Update on Refuge Alternatives: Research, Recommendations, and Underground Deployment
In response to the mandates in the MINER Act of 2006, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) conducted refuge alternatives research that included characterizing the utility, practicality and survivability of refuge chambers and outby safe havens. NIOSH also prepared and delivered a report to Congress in late December 2007 that summarized the findings of the research, included recommendations concerning the design and performance specifications for refuge alternatives, and focused on specific information that could inform the regulatory process on refuge alternatives. This paper highlights research by NIOSH and recommendations concerning refuge alternatives, survivability evaluations of refuge chambers and presents a brief review of the current deployment of refuge chambers in underground coal mines in the U.S. The research has lead to the conclusion that refuge alternatives have the potential for saving the lives of mine workers if they are part of a comprehensive escape and rescue plan and if appropriate training is provided.