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Coal | Respiratory conditions | Legislation | Worker health and wellness | Workplace exposures

Coal dust rule goes into effect

August 1, 2014

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Washington – A rule that aims to reduce miner exposure to harmful coal dust went into effect Aug. 1.

The rule, which was announced April 23 by the Mine Safety and Health Administration, will be phased in during three stages over a two-year period. The first stage, which began Aug. 1, includes the following requirements:

  • Compliance will be determined based on a single, full-shift sample by MSHA, not an average of samples.
  • Immediate corrective action is required when a single, full-shift sample shows an excessive level of dust.
  • Samples should be collected from a full shift that a miner works, even if that shift surpasses the previous sample maximum of eight hours.
  • Increased training and certification is required for people conducting sampling.
  • Periodic X-ray requirements for underground miners were extended to surface miners.

The requirements are intended to end the prevalence of deadly diseases collectively known as “black lung.”

The coal dust rule drew praise from organizations such as the AFL-CIO.

“The AFL-CIO commits to work with MSHA, the [United Mine Workers of America] and other unions to see that the new coal dust rules are fully and effectively implemented and enforced,” the labor organization stated in a press release.