MSHA Issues Guidance for Developing Emergency Response Plans

With the recently passed MINER Act setting an Aug. 14 deadline for underground coal operators to submit their emergency response plans, MSHA on July 21 issued guidance to help ensure miners have available the equipment they need to safely evacuate a mine following an accident or to protect them if they are trapped.

"All underground coal mines must have the materials necessary to save and preserve lives after a serious accident," MSHA Acting Administrator David Dye said.

Emergency response plans required by the MINER Act new mine safety legislatoin passed by overwhelming majorities in Congress after the spate of mine deaths this year are due to MSHA district offices for approval by Aug. 14. Emergency response plans must include:

  • Installation of post-accident communications technology likely to survive an accident;
  • A system capable of tracking all underground personnel, so their pre-accident locations can be known until technology allows for post-accident tracking;
  • Storage of breathable air for escaping miners and those who might become trapped after an accident;
  • Installation of lifelines to help guide miners safely out of mines in smoky conditions;
  • Training for all underground personnel on evacuation procedures and hands-on training in the use of self-contained self-rescuers;
  • A plan to promptly notify key personnel and emergency responders in the event of an accident; and
  • Storage for materials that provide shelter for and sustain trapped miners.

The full text of the MSHA's program policy letter addressing these requirements is available on MSHA's Web site.

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