The West Virginia Coal Association and state regulators have confirmed the new set of rules that will dictate age requirements for new mine rescue team members and new outlines for mine examinations are coming into effect on January 10.
The newly promulgated rules and regulations addressing the age of new mine rescue members are under Title 49, Series 4, and the new mine certification program for outbuy examinations are now formally known as Title 49, Series 9.
The public comment period for the proposed rule under Title 36, Series 57 requiring underground mine equipment operators to confirm the presence of danger tags during their pre-operation check has been extended through January 10. The WVCA has invited anyone with concerns to reach out to president Chris Hamilton by January 9 so it may be presented.
“Earlier this week, the WV Board of Coal Mine Health and Safety approved two administrative rules for final promulgation relating to Mine Rescue Team Members and the new mining certification for Outbuy Mine Examiners,” Hamilton said.
“The board additionally voted to propose a third rule for public comment which would require underground mine equipment operators to confirm the presence of danger tags during their pre-operation check.”
The association said that Title 49, Series 4 Rule pertaining to mine rescue team members has been revised to allow miners to join a mine rescue team following their 50th birthday, provided they are physically able to perform mine rescue duties. State requirements currently prohibit miners from becoming a mine rescue team member past their 50th birthday.
The new Outby Mine Examiner Certification under Title 49, Series 9 will be applicable and limited to examinations of outby areas, i.e., belt entries and belt conveyors, returns, travel ways and air courses.
The final rule was unchanged throughout the rulemaking process and specifies that a miner must possess a miner’s certification, have two years of mining experience, and successfully complete an examination to be eligible for an Outby Mine Examiner Certification.
The requirements governing the new certification program also permits current belt examiners to upgrade or transition to an Outby Mine Examiner, with four additional hours of mine foreman-fire boss training and the successful completion of the certification exam.
Finally, the board proposed for public comment a revision to Title 36, Series 57, the rule related to Proximity Detection Systems, and Haulage Safety Generally. The amendment, under subsection 7.3.3, requires equipment operators to confirm the presence of danger tags on site as part of their mandated pre-operation equipment check. This proposed rule will be subject to a 30-day comment period within a week or two.
More information on the rules can be found here:
Often, many West Virginia mine operations and safety standards serve as a benchmark for other U.S. states and their respective mines.