Report: APP CMHS Project 4




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6.6.3. Emergency Response

MSHA require a 3 tiered (12 issue) response notification system. These respective issues are notified by MSHA. The three responses are: Green – first aid; Yellow – potentially serious (possible entrapment); and red – fatal. A yellow notification triggers a mandatory command centre response by the mine and to include MSHA personnel. MSHA has a 1800 phone number for rapid and automatic contact. This will record and notify the on duty inspector with a rapid despatch system.

Most mines have 2 mines rescue teams comprising at least 7 team members with one back up member. A fire brigade is also maintained with minimum numbers maintained for ready response.

The Mine Improvement and New Emergency Response Act of 2006 (2006 MINER Act) outlines the requirements and contents of emergency response plans in U.S. underground coal mines. The Act requires that each underground coal mine operator in U.S. shall develop and adopt a written accident response plan that complies and periodically update such plans to reflect changes in operations in the mine, advances in technology, or other relevant considerations. Each such operator shall make the accident response plan available to the miners and the miners' representatives. An accident response plan shall provide for the evacuation of all individuals endangered by an emergency; and provide for the maintenance of individuals trapped underground in the event that miners are not able to evacuate the mine.

The plan shall include the following:

  • Post - Accident Communications - a redundant means of communication with the surface for persons underground, such as secondary telephone or equivalent two-way communication.

  • Post – Accident Tracking - consistent with commercially available technology and with the physical constraints, if any, of the mine, the plan shall provide for above ground personnel to determine the current, or immediately pre-accident, location of all underground personnel. Any system so utilised shall be functional, reliable, and calculated to remain serviceable in a post-accident setting.

  • Post – Accident Breathable Air. The plan shall provide for--

  • emergency supplies of breathable air for individuals trapped underground sufficient to maintain such individuals for a sustained period of time

  • in addition to the 2 hours of breathable air per miner required by law under the emergency temporary standard, caches of self-rescuers providing in the aggregate not less than 2 hours per miner to be kept in escape ways from the deepest work area to the surface at a distance of no further than an average miner could walk in 30 minutes

  • a maintenance schedule for checking the reliability of self rescuers, retiring older self-rescuers first, and introducing new self-rescuer technology, such as units with interchangeable air or oxygen cylinders not requiring doffing to replenish airflow and units with supplies of greater than 60 minutes, as they are approved by the Administration and become available on the market

  • training for each miner in proper procedures for donning self-rescuers, switching from one unit to another, and ensuring a proper fit.

  • Post – Accident Lifelines. The plan shall provide for the use of flame-resistant directional lifelines or equivalent systems in escape ways to enable evacuation. The flame-resistance requirement of this clause shall apply upon the replacement of existing lifelines, or, in the case of lifelines in working sections, upon the earlier of the replacement of such lifelines.

  • Training. The plan shall provide a training program for emergency procedures described in the plan which will not diminish the requirements for mandatory health and safety training currently required under section 115 of the Federal Mine Safety and Health Act of 1977.

  • Local Coordination. The plan shall set out procedures for coordination and communication between the operator, mine rescue teams, and local emergency response personnel and make provisions for familiarising local rescue personnel with surface functions that may be required in the course of mine rescue work.

The 2006 MINER Act also states that the operator of each underground coal mine with more than 36 employees shall (1) have an employee knowledgeable in mine emergency response who is employed at the mine on each shift at each underground mine; (2) make available two certified mine rescue teams whose members are familiar with the operations of such coal mine, participate at least annually in two local mine rescue contests, participate at least annually in mine rescue training at the underground coal mine covered by the mine rescue team; and are available at the mine within one hour ground travel time from the mine rescue station.


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