Legislation Workplace exposures Respiratory conditions Coal

MSHA issues final rule on coal dust

Arlington, VA – The Mine Safety and Health Administration on April 23 released a final rule intended to lower miners’ exposure to coal mine dust and help end the prevalence of deadly diseases collectively known as black lung.

Since 1968, more than 76,000 miners have died as a result of coal workers’ pneumoconiosis, emphysema and progressive massive fibrosis, MSHA states, citing NIOSH statistics. The agency’s new rule also requires more frequent sampling and immediate action when encountering high dust levels.

“We are finally moving forward to overhaul an outdated program that has failed to adequately protect miners from breathing unhealthy levels of coal mine dust and achieving the intent of Congress to eliminate black lung disease,” MSHA administrator Joseph A. Main said in a press release.

MSHA has published guidance documents on the final rule, and said it intends to give several presentations in May and June to stakeholders. Provisions of the rule will go into effect in stages, the first on Aug. 1.