Thought I might share this. First, the Wall Street Journal.
The state Mine Safety Board has voted to put five new safety rules out for public comment. The rules could be law in the coalfields within 45 days.
The board decided Wednesday to be proactive in its response to the April 5 explosion at the Upper Big Branch mine in Raleigh County. The blast killed 29 miners.
The proposed rules include requiring barometers in mine offices with corresponding equipment underground, requiring automatic fire detection equipment on mine conveyor belts, two sets of mine rescue team rules and increased testing and calibrating of methane detectors on equipment at the mine face.
Mine Safety Board Administrator Joel Watts says all five rules will be out for public comment during the next 30 days.
“We really want the community involvement here,” Watts said. “This goes into making the industry safer, when we have more involvement.”
Watts says the methane monitor rule will make readings at the face more accurate. Right now monitors are only required to be tested every 30-days. The proposed rule would squeeze the time to 15-days and include calibration. “Testing them to see if they work and then you’re making sure they are perfectly calibrated, which should make it safer in the long run.,” Watts said.
The investigation into what caused the UBB explosion is in its early stages and Watts says it’s too early to tell if any of the new rules being proposed would have prevented the blast, but now is not the time to delay making safety improvements.
“This is just the start,” Watts predicted. “And as the investigation moves on I imagine the board will have a lot more to say about how they can either put in new laws or refine existing regulations.”
The rules will be available soon at the West Virginia Coal Mine Safety Health and Training website.
The board’s next meeting will take place May 4-5.