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Escapeway requirements for underground mines: MSHA schedules meeting, extends comment period on clarification letter

mine underground
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Washington — The Mine Safety and Health Administration has scheduled a public meeting and extended the comment period on a program policy letter intended to clarify requirements for providing emergency escapeways for underground metal and nonmetal miners, in response to stakeholder requests.

According to a notice published in the Sept. 25 Federal Register, MSHA is looking to collect input on the program policy letter during the meeting, scheduled for 9 a.m. Eastern on Oct. 10 at the agency’s headquarters.

MSHA published the letter in the July 29 Federal Register, and the initial comment period was set to expire Sept. 27. The new comment deadline is Oct. 28.


The agency states that under 30 CFR 57.11050:

  • “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.”
  • “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 method.”

The program policy letter notes that 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.

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