Mining Publication: Mitigating Coal Dust Explosions in Modern Underground Coal Mines
The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), as part of its continuing research program for evaluating coal dust explosion hazards, has investigated several areas in which current practices may need to be updated in order to adequately protect mines against coal dust propagated explosions. In the United States, current rock dusting requirements remained largely unchanged since 1969. US Title 30 Code of Federal Regulations Section 75.403 is based on a coal dust particle size survey performed in the 1920s and later was supplemented by full-scale testing of the rock dust ability to inert a coal dust explosion. NIOSH recently conducted a comprehensive survey of US underground coal mines to determine the range of coal particle sizes found in dust samples collected from the mine entries. Due to advancements in technology and modern coal mining techniques, the current coal dust particles in intake airways are significantly finer than those found in the mines in the 1920s. According to past full-scale dust explosion test results, the current rock dusting practices used in mines today to inert a coal dust explosion may not be adequate. Other closely related issues such as rock dust testing methods and sampling procedures are discussed.