Pittsburgh, PA: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Public Health Service, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, DHHS (NIOSH) Publication No. 2009-148 (IC 9514), 2009 Jul; :1-33
Refuge chambers may potentially save the lives of miners during a mine emergency. For this reason, it is crucial that miners know how to operate them. Unfortunately, because refuge chambers provide so many services, they can be very complicated and difficult to operate. Therefore, NIOSH has created this document with suggestions for developing manuals and educational materials. A multidisciplinary team comprised of NIOSH engineers, sociologists, psychologists, health communication professionals, and geologists developed the recommendations contained in this document. These recommendations are based on an evaluation of manufacturers' instruction manuals from both the U.S. and globally, interviews with over 20 mining and safety experts, and an extensive literature review. This research, focused on the best practices for refuge chambers, led to the formulation of this document. It is intended to offer suggestions to manufacturers and mine operators on how to create effective and easy-to-understand training manuals for miners as well as tips to create the most comfortable and usable refuge chambers. It should be noted that these recommendations are not meant to substitute for manufacturer-supplied materials but rather to be used in conjunction with manufacturer's materials. Manufacturers should always be consulted for up-to-date information about their chamber. Although different states and different mines refer to underground refuges by different names, this guide will simply refer to underground refuges nearest to the face as refuge chambers, whether inflatable from a skid or constructed from steel. Other popular terms for refuge chambers are rescue chambers, rescue shelters, and refuge shelters. Refuges that are nearer to the shaft, whether a prefabricated refuge chamber or one built into a crosscut, will be referred to as outby refuges because of their location in the mine. Outby refuges can be permanent, semipermanent, or portable and are usually located at every other SCSR cache. Outby refuges are sometimes called hardened rooms, outby shelters, and in-place shelters. When discussing outby refuges and refuge chambers collectively, this guide will refer to them as underground refuges. Other terms for underground refuges include refuge alternatives, locations of safety, and safe havens.