MSHA clarifies escapeway requirements for underground mines
Washington — In response to recent questions from the mining community, the Mine Safety and Health Administration has issued a program policy letter intended to clarify requirements for providing emergency escapeways for underground metal and nonmetal miners.
In a notice published in the July 29 Federal Register, MSHA states that under 30 CFR 57.11050(a): “Every mine shall have two or more separate, properly maintained escapeways to the surface from the lowest levels which are so positioned that damage to one shall not lessen the effectiveness of the others. A method of refuge shall be provided while a second opening to the surface is being developed. A second escapeway is recommended, but not required, during the exploration or development of an ore body.”
In addition, a “method of refuge shall be provided” for miners to safely take shelter in the event they are unable to access the areas “when using the normal exit” protocol.
The program policy letter notes the refuge site “should be located near the miners so that they promptly and reliably” can enter, and encourages mine operators to confer with MSHA district managers on mine-specific conditions and factors when determining escape and evacuation plans.
Comments on the program policy letter are due Sept. 27.