MSHA Final Rule Aims to Lower Miners' Exposure to Respirable Coal Dust

Published April 30, 2014

A final rule released by MSHA on April 23 will revise the agency’s existing standards on miners’ occupational exposure to respirable coal mine dust, continuing MSHA’s initiative to end black lung disease. The new rule will lower the existing exposure limit in the overall dust standard from 2.0 to 1.5 milligrams per cubic meter of air (mg/m3) at underground and surface coal mines. The rule will also lower the existing limit of 1.0 to 0.5 mg/m3 for intake air at underground mines and for miners who show evidence of developing pneumoconiosis.

According to MSHA, the rule will also require mine operators to collect respirable dust samples for the full shift a miner works, rather than stopping measurement after eight hours; require immediate corrective actions to lower dust concentrations when a single sample shows an excessive concentration of dust; expand medical surveillance requirements for miners; and strengthen requirements for certified persons who perform dust sampling and maintain and calibrate sampling equipment.

The rule is effective Aug. 1, 2014, and includes a two-year phase-in period to allow mine operators adequate time to comply with MSHA’s proposed respirable dust standards.

For more information, visit MSHA’s website.