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.

  • The Top 5 Safety and Technology Trends to Watch in 2019

    Get the latest on trends you can expect to hear more about in 2019, including continued growth of mobile safety applications, wearable technology, and smart PPE; autonomous vehicles; pending OSHA recordkeeping rulemaking; and increased adoption of international safety standard, ISO 45001.

  • Get the Ultimate Guide to OSHA Recordkeeping

    OSHA’s Form 300A posting deadline is February 1! Are you prepared? To help answer your key recordkeeping questions, IndustrySafe put together this guide with critical compliance information.

  • Safety Training 101

    When it comes to safety training, no matter the industry, there are always questions regarding requirements and certifications. We’ve put together a guide on key safety training topics, requirements for certifications, and answers to common training questions.

  • Conduct EHS Inspections and Audits

    Record and manage your organization’s inspection data with IndustrySafe’s Inspections module. IndustrySafe’s pre-built forms and checklists may be used as is, or can be customized to better suit the needs of your organization.

  • Industry Safe

OH&S Digital Edition

  • OHS Magazine Digital Edition - January 2019

    January 2019

    Featuring:

    • PREVENTING ERRORS
      Production vs. Safety 
    • EMERGENCY SHOWERS & EYEWASH
      Meeting the Requirements for Emergency Equipment
    • CONSTRUCTION SAFETY
      The State of Contractor Safety
    • FOOT PROTECTION
      The Three Keys to Effective Chemical Management
    View This Issue