Emergency Standard Requires Much Stronger Underground Coal Mine Seals

What MSHA says is only the fourth emergency temporary standard will be published in Tuesday's Federal Register to require stronger seals in underground coal mines, MSHA said. This rule's publication beats by seven months the deadline set by the MINER Act and responds to the causes of two 2006 fatal explosions in West Virginia and Kentucky mines.

"Based on MSHA's accident investigation reports of the Sago and Darby mine explosions, MSHA's in-mine seal evaluations and review of technical literature, and the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health's reports on explosion testing and modeling, we have concluded that immediate action is necessary to provide additional protections for our nation's underground coal miners," said Richard E. Stickler, assistant secretary of labor for mine safety and health.

The standard sets requirements to strengthen the design, construction, maintenance, and repair of seals, and it also contains requirements for sampling and controlling atmospheres behind seals. For new seals, it sets a three-tiered approach: (1) seals may be constructed at 50 psi, but the atmosphere behind them must be monitored and maintained inert; (2) if the atmosphere is not monitored and maintained inert, the seals must be constructed at 120 psi -- six times stronger than MSHA's requirement at the time of the Sago blast in early 2006; and (3) where higher explosion pressures are possible within sealed areas that are not monitored or maintained inert, the seals must be greater than 120 psi.

MSHA said mine operators must submit design and installation applications for MSHA's approval, and the seals' design plans must be certified by a professional engineer. MSHA has posted preliminary designs for 50 psi and 120 psi seals at www.msha.gov. Reflecting MSHA's conclusion that lighting triggered the Sago blast via cables that were connected to a sealed area, the standard requires that insulated cables be removed from future areas to be sealed, and it bars welding, cutting, and soldering with an arc or flame within 150 feet of a seal. MSHA will hold four public hearings on the standard on July 10 in Morgantown, W.Va.; July 12 in Lexington, Ky.; July 17 in Denver; and July 19 in Birmingham, Ala.

Download Center

HTML - No Current Item Deck
  • Free Safety Management Software Demo

    IndustrySafe Safety Management Software helps organizations to improve safety by providing a comprehensive toolset of software modules to help businesses identify trouble spots; reduce claims, lost days, OSHA fines; and more.

  • Complete Online Safety Training Courses

    Deliver state-of-the art, online safety training courses to your organization with IndustrySafe Training Management Software. Generate reports to track training compliance and automatically notify learners of upcoming or overdue classes.

  • Easy to Use Safety Inspection App

    Conduct inspections on the go with IndustrySafe’s mobile app. Complete safety audits at job sites and remote locations—with or without web access.

  • Track Key Safety Performance Indicators

    IndustrySafe’s Dashboard Module allows organizations to easily track safety KPIs and metrics. Gain increased visibility into your business’ operations and safety data.

  • Analyze Incident Data and Maintain OSHA Compliance

    Collect relevant incident data, analyze trends, and generate accurate regulatory reports, including OSHA 300, 300A, and 301 logs, through IndustrySafe’s extensive incident reporting and investigation module.

  • Industry Safe
comments powered by Disqus