ARLINGTON, VA -- The U.S. Department of Labor's Mine Safety and Health Administration an emergency temporary standard that revises the existing federal standard on maintenance of incombustible content of rock dust.

The determination to create an ETS was based on MSHA's review of accident investigation reports of mine explosions in intake air courses that involved coal dust, as well as the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health's report "Recommendations for a New Rock Dusting Standard to Prevent Coal Dust Explosions in Intake Airways."

"Coal dust can cause explosions and explosions kill miners. Inadequate rock dusting can dramatically increase the potential for a coal mine explosion," said Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis. "Compliance with the new standard will strengthen the protection for miners by minimizing the potential for such an explosion and, ultimately, will save lives."

"Explosions caused by coal dust are particularly violent and deadly," noted Mine Safety and Health Administration Assistant Secretary Joe Main. "When the NIOSH report was released in May 2010 containing new scientific evidence that called for a higher standard, MSHA moved quickly to get this new standard in place. We also revised our guidance on rock dusting to ensure that mine operators are taking the steps necessary to provide for the safety of everyone working in their mines."

The ETS revises the existing standard by requiring mine operators to increase the total incombustible content of the combined coal dust, rock dust and other dust from 65 to 80 percent in all accessible areas of underground bituminous mines, and an additional 0.4 percent for each 0.1 percent of methane where methane is present in any ventilating current.

Read the Mine Safety and Health Administration's press release.

Read the full report.

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