MSHA says stricter coal dust rule compliance is ‘highly achievable’

26 April 2015 (Last Updated April 26th, 2015 18:30)

US Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) has said that stricter coal dust rule compliance is 'highly achievable' to prevent black lung disease, following eight months of federal inspections.

US Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) has said that stricter coal dust rule compliance is 'highly achievable' to prevent black lung disease, following eight months of federal inspections.

The lung disease can be prevented by lowering miners' exposure to harmful coal dust, the agency added.

MSHA assistant secretary of labour Joseph Main said: "This is very good news for coal miners and validates the ability of mine operators to maintain the low dust levels to meet the new standard."

"Better dust control systems are in place than ever before for our nation's coal miners."

"More than 41,000 dust samples were collected and the results show that nearly 99% are in compliance."

In April last year, MSHA published a final rule to lower miners' exposure to respirable coal mine dust in all underground as well as surface coal mines.

During the first phase of the rule from 1 August 2014, through 31 March 2015, more than 41,000 dust samples were collected and the results show that nearly 99% are in compliance.

In addition, the annual average of respirable dust levels of designated mining occupations in underground coal mines decline to a low level in 2014.

According to MSHA, 30,725 of the total respirable dust samples collected in the eight-month period were taken from underground mines with 439 of those samples exceeding compliance levels used to determine if a violation has occurred.

Out of the remaining samples that were taken at surface mine areas, 10,596 samples met compliance levels.

The final rule, which reduces the concentration of coal dust that miners breathe, improves sampling practices to protect all miners from overexposures and makes use of new technology to provide real-time information about dust levels.

Miners and operators will also be allowed to identify problems and make necessary adjustments.