New Mine Rescue Team Rule Published, Effective Nov. 14

MSHA yesterday published a final rule requiring more oxygen and more gas monitores to be carried by mine rescue teams, and a second rule affecting fire extinguishers used in underground coal mines. The rescue teams rule is intended to improve the effectiveness and response speed of mine rescue teams during emergencies.

"Mine rescue team members often put themselves in danger to save miners injured or trapped underground as the result of an explosion, fire, roof fall, or water inundation. It is critical that they be provided with the most up-to-date protective equipment so they can safely and effectively carry out their mission," said Richard Stickler, acting chief of MSHA. "In an emergency, a properly equipped mine rescue team could mean the difference between life and death." The rule takes effect Nov. 14.

Requirements of the final rule include four-hour (rather than two-hour) SCBAs; two (rather than one) extra oxygen bottles for every six SCBAs; eight hours (rather than six hours) of liquid air, liquid oxygen, pressurized oxygen, or oxygen-generating chemicals and carbon dioxide-absorbent chemicals to maintain SCBAs for a longer period of time; and four (rather than two) gas detectors appropriate for each gas that may be encountered.

The rule updates MSHA's existing equipment standards for teams serving underground metal and nonmetal mines (part 49, subpart A, Sec. 49.6) and underground coal mines (part 49, subpart B, Sec. 49.16).

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