Safety and health regulatory changes and technology developments in U.S. coal mining.
Proceedings of the 33rd Conference of Safety in Mines Research Institutes, Wisla, Poland, September 15-18, 2009. Lipowczan A, ed., Katowice, Poland: Central Mining Institute (Glówny Instytut Górnictwa), 2009 Sep; :86-98
The US coal mining industry has been impacted greatly by recent coal mining disasters which have resulted in new legislation that has affected mining economic costs as well safety and health of miners. The first incident was an explosion on January 2, 2006 at the Sago mine in West Virginia that killed 12 miners. This and other major mine accidents led the US Congress to pass the Mine Improvement and New Emergency Response Act of 2006 (MINER Act). On August 6, 2007 six miners were killed by a colli outburst when pillars failed, and ten days later, three more men were killed in a coal outburst during rescue efforts., This increased pressure for even stricter safety and health regulations for coal mines. The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) assumed responsibility for research to improve occupational safety and health of miners after the closure of the US Bureau of Mines. The intramural research done by NIOSH related to prevention and response to mine fIres and explosions is done primarily at the Pittsburgh Research Laboratory (PRL). The NIOSH strategy for mine disasters is in order of priority: (1) prevention, (2) escape, and (3) rescue. This paper describes recent progress in mine safety in the United States, with emphasis on events that have. followed since the passage of the MINER Act in 2006. Regulatory changes and NlOSH research related to these changes are described. Some of the topics that will be discussed include: 1. Mine explosion prevention 2. Coal dust explosibility meter 3. Fine coal dust explosibility 4. Improving methane control practices in colli mines 5. Improving underground coal mine sealing strategies 6. Mine escape and rescue 7. Refuge chambers 8. Emergency communication and tracking 9. Analysis of belt air ventilation in colli mines 10. Reducing hazards of conveyor belt fires in underground coal mines 11. Protecting miners during retreat coal mining of pillars 12. Respirable dust 'measurement and control The US mining industry is in a state of flux following recent coal mining disasters and the resulting changes in legislation and regulations. It is likely that the new Congress soon will consider significant new mining health and safety legislation. Much of the current NIOSH research is being done in anticipation of new regulatory changes. The US mining industry has been affected greatly by recent coal mining disasters which have resulted in new legislation that will have an impact on mining economic costs as well safety and health of miners. This paper discusses changes that new legislation and regulations are making to the industry, and current research that is producing technologies to make mining safer.
Mining-industry; Coal-mining; Mine-disasters; Regulations; Legislation; Underground-mining; Mine-fires; Explosions; Mine-escapes; Mine-rescue; Explosion-prevention; Methane-control; Methane-drainage; Mine-seals; Retreat-mining
R. Güner Gürtunca, Director, Pittsburgh Research Laboratory, NIOSH, P.O. Box 18070, Pittsburgh, PA 15236
Proceedings of the 33rd Conference of Safety in Mines Research Institutes, Wisla, Poland, September 15-18, 2009