In testimony last week before the Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA), the National Mining Association (NMA) told the agency that the dust sampling proposals under consideration would not restore confidence in the program or improve miners'' health.
According to NMA''s statement presented by Bruce Watzman, NMA''s vice president for safety and health, "The industry has long sought performance rather than prescriptive regulations, yet the proposals are, in their current form, neither."
The proposals, said NMA, are "too subjective and open to numerous, ever-changing interpretations."
MSHA is proposing to take over all sampling in underground coal mines to check for compliance with dust limits set to prevent lung disease.
NMA criticized the agency for stating it will develop and issue policy guidance documents to supplement a final rule.
"As you are aware, we have historically opposed the agency''s attempts to regulate through policy. We will continue to do so should this be finalized in its current form," said Watzman.
Watzman said NMA supports MSHA assuming responsibility for all compliance and abatement sampling, and the agency''s recognition "at long last" that supplied air helmets can and must play a crucial role in protecting miner''s health.
However, he said, the proposal should be withdrawn.
According to Watzman, the mining industry is "on the verge of introducing new personal monitoring technology that will enable miners to know, on a real-time basis, their individual dust exposure."
He urged the agency not to preempt the introduction of this technology "because of an arbitrarily determined regulatory schedule."
"Finalization of the current proposal, whose benefits are minimal at best, must not thwart the development and introduction of this new technology," said Watzman.
by Virginia Sutcliffe