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CHARLESTON, W.Va. – The West Virginia Board of Coal Mine Health and Safety unanimously approved a rule last week requiring proximity detection systems to improve the safety of underground coal miners. This comprehensive safety regulation is the first of its kind in the nation.

Board Administrator Joel Watts said the regulation will put West Virginia’s coal miners in a safer environment than what exists anywhere else in the world.

“West Virginia is once again at the forefront of underground mine safety and technology,” Watts said. “The Board of Coal Mine Health and Safety is committed to the safety of West Virginia’s coal miners. I am very pleased that the board met its 120-day deadline to enact this regulation. This regulation requires new training and equipment, and will result in a culture change in the state’s mining industry.” Watts also said that the board will reach out to federal partners at the Mine Safety and Health Administration to ensure all parties are on the same page.

The Board of Coal Mine Health and Safety is composed of members representing the viewpoints of the operators and labor. Its members are Chris Hamilton, WV Coal Association; Ted Hapney, United Mine Workers of America (UMWA); Terry Hudson, Patriot Coal; Carl Egnor, UMWA; Charles Russell, Arch Coal; and Gary Trout, UMWA.

Chris Hamilton, a member of the board and the executive vice president of the West Virginia Coal Association said, “The requirements embodied in this rule will serve to enhance miner safety by providing a comprehensive approach, including deployment of new mine safety technologies, additional safeguards and worker training provisions.”

“The UMWA is pleased that West Virginia has taken this important step,” said UMWA President Cecil E. Roberts. “We know that proximity detection devices can and will save lives. This rule will provide a strong foundation for continued improvements in coal miners’ safety in West Virginia, and, we hope, across the nation.”

For more information, contact Joel Watts at 304-957-2306.

By Cecil E. Roberts

Mike Payton has been working as a coal miner in Marion County for 10 years. He got out of school, went to work, started a family, bought a house and began his climb up the ladder of economic security that has for generations been the way out of poverty for people in the coalfields.

A member of the United Mine Workers of America, Mike shops at local stores, eats at local restaurants, takes his kids to local doctors and clinics. He and thousands more like him throughout America's coalfields have an immense impact on the economic and social fabrics of their communities.

Indeed, without them, many of those communities would dry up and vanish.

That's starting to happen. Average coal employment in the United States dropped 17.1 percent over the last two years. West Virginia alone lost more than 2,500 coal jobs over that time. Kentucky lost another 6,000 and coal employment there has dropped to the lowest level since 1927. That means that nearly $1 billion in wages and benefits has been ripped out of the economies of the largely rural West Virginia and Kentucky coalfield communities in just two years.

Read More

A major environmental group is launching a massive campaign to strangle the coal industry, push green energy sources and increase electricity prices for much of the country, The Daily Caller News Foundation has learned.

TheDCNF obtained an internal Sierra Club Beyond Coal campaign document from an anonymous source. The document lays out the environmental group’s $120 million campaign to decommission 105,000 megawatts of U.S. coal-fired power, prevent more coal from being mined or exported and push for more green energy production.

Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal campaign’s main goals are to “stop the construction of a new fleet of coal plants… expedite the replacement of the existing fleet of coal plants with cleaner energy alternatives, with a goal of retiring all existing coal plants by 2030” and to “keep the massive U.S. coal reserves underground and out of international markets.”

Read more: http://dailycaller.com/2014/03/26/confidential-document-revels-the-sierra-clubs-plan-to-shut-down-the-coal-industry/#ixzz2x6wcYGs8
“EPA Facts is a project of the Environmental Policy Alliance dedicated to highlighting the high cost of the Environmental Protection Agency’s regulatory actions and peeling back the layers of secrecy surrounding the agency’s actions.”
 
EPA Facts is not affiliated with the West Virginia Coal Forum, but contains valuable information we feel may be important in determining future decisions.

http://environmentalpolicyalliance.org/

27 January 2014 - NOTICE: COMMENT PERIOD

To: All persons interested in Rules and Regulations constructed by the Board of Coal Mine Health and Safety
From: Joel L. Watts, Administrator – BCMH&S

Subject: 36.55 – Rules Governing Haulage Safety Generally: Proximity Detection Systems Required; Use of Cameras on Section Equipment; Pre-Operation Equipment Checks Expanded; Machine Operators to Check Haulage Routes; Machine Operators To Sound Warning Devices; Reflective Clothing Required; Strobe lights, extension rods (pogo sticks) or cones to be Used at Hazardous Work Sites; The Director Shall Expedite Approval of Extended Mining Plans; Industry-Wide Regulatory Training; Other Section Haulage Safety Provisions
 
Authority: §22A-6-4

The Board of Coal Mine Health and Safety is created pursuant to WV Code  §22A-6-1

At the 16 November 2013 meeting of the Board of Coal Mine Health and Safety, the Health and Safety Administrator was directed twice to write rules towards the use of proximity detectors and other avenues of safety in underground coal mines. On 12 December 2013, in response to two fatalities, the Board of Coal Mine Health and Safety voted to pursue rulemaking to prevent the reoccurrence of similar fatalities and to include based on the maturity of the technology, the use of proximity detection equipment. 

A public subcommittee of the Board met 6 January 2014 to finalize a draft proposed rule which was in turn presented at the 16 January 2014 meeting of the Board. At this time, the Board, after offering several amendments and after due consideration of all viewpoints, voted to submit the attached rule for public comment. 

The proposed rule sets forth a more comprehensive approach to underground haulage accidents by requiring the following:   

·  Proximity detection systems on all “newly purchased” place-change continuous miners within 6 months following the effective date of the rule and all rebuilt place-change miners within 12 months of the effective date of this rule;

·  Proximity detection systems on all existing place-change continuous miners within 36 months of the effective date of this rule;

·  Cameras or proximity detection systems on scoop cars and battery-powered section haulage equipment within 36 months of the effective date of this rule;

·  The Office of Miners’ Health Safety & Training is obligated to visit each mine in the state and to host regional workshops to discuss the new requirements and disseminate information on Proximity devices and the use of cameras on underground equipment;

·  Individual machine operators are to ensure their personal safety and the safety of the equipment entrusted to them and others who may be working in the same area of a mine by performing equipment inspections, checking roadways and sounding alarms.

·  A minimum of 100 square inches of reflective or highly visible clothing to be worn by all underground employees.

·  The use of strobes lights, warning cones or extension rods are to be used at hazardous work sites

·  Places a responsibility of the OMHST Director to seek to commence the expeditious approval of extended-cut mining plans with MSHA to reduce instances of unnecessary equipment moves underground;

·  Restates a number of underground haulage safety provisions found in various rules currently in effect (section 13); and

·  Mine site safety meetings to review the provisions of the rule.

The Board of Coal Mine Health and Safety is asking for any all comments related to this technology and other avenues of underground haulage safety to be submitted to the Health and Safety Administrator no later than close of business 28 February 2014. 

Further, the Board of Coal Mine Health and Safety specifically desires comments related to the possible inclusion of a strobe light on shuttle cars. 

All comments related to this rules are to be submitted via one of the following:

Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Fax: 304.558.1224

Or, you may mail them to:

Joel L. Watts
1900 Kanawha BLVD East
State Capitol Complex
Bldg 6, Ste 652
Charleston, WV 25301

Charleston, WV (January 16, 2014) – Today, the West Virginia Board of Coal Mine Health and Safety unanimously proposed an unprecedented, comprehensive mine safety rule affecting new mining technologies, additional haulage safeguards, worker training, and human performance issues. The proposed rule will be available for public comment for a 30-day period to allow mine health and safety professionals and members of the public from around the state to offer their suggestions.

Joel Watts, administrator for the West Virginia Board of Coal Mine Health & Safety, said, “The Board’s commitment to mine safety is reflected throughout the multi-pronged approach to correcting underground coal mining dangers and to put West Virginia’s coal miners in a safer environment than what exists anywhere else in the world.  As just one example of the unprecedented nature of this proposal, no other state or federal law establishes the same level of protection for underground section haulage tasks than what is found in the Board’s proposal.  The Board is truly a pioneer in requiring the use of this new technology, which only recently matured enough to be commercially viable.”

Watts continued, “The Board’s quick and decisive action comes after similar rules have stalled on the federal level.  The Board feels that the technology has finally advanced to a place where continuous mining machinery should have proximity devices on them. The proposal also includes many other safety improvements.  The Board has acted carefully and thoughtfully on the proposal, and it will continue to work together to ensure the safety of our miners remains our number one priority.”

The proposed rule sets forth a more comprehensive approach to underground haulage accidents by requiring the following:   

Proximity detection systems on all “newly purchased” place-change continuous miners by within 6 months following the effective date of the rule and all rebuilt place-change miners within 12 months of the effective date of this rule;

·  Proximity detection systems on all existing place-change continuous miners by within 36 months of the effective date of this rule;

·  Cameras or proximity detection systems on scoop cars and battery-powered section haulage equipment within 36 months of the effective date of this rule;

·  The Office of Miners’ Health Safety & Training is obligated to visit each mine in the state and to host regional workshops to discuss the new requirements and disseminate information on Proximity devices and the use of cameras on underground equipment;

·  Individual machine operators are to ensure their personal safety and the safety of the equipment entrusted to them and others who may be working in the same area of a mine by performing equipment inspections, checking roadways and sounding alarms.

·  A minimum of 100 square inches of reflective or highly visible clothing to be worn by all underground employees.

·  The use of strobes lights, warning cones or extension rods are to be used at hazardous work sites

·  Places a responsibility of the OMHST Director to seek to commence the expeditious approval of extended-cut mining plans with MSHA to reduce instances of unnecessary equipment moves underground;

·  Restates a number of underground haulage safety provisions found in various rules currently in effect (section 13); and

·  Mine site safety meetings to review the provisions of the rule.

Watts said that during the December 12, 2013 meeting of the Board, members heard the final reports on several fatal mining incidents that involved the loss of life due to accidents involving underground machinery. Acting as statue allows and dictates, the Board voted unanimously to begin the process of drafting rules to address this situation. Today, the Board took the next step by unanimously agreeing to post the proposal for comment, also according to statute. 

The Board of Coal Mine Health and Safety is composed of members representing the viewpoints of the operators and labor. It is comprised of Chris Hamilton, WV Coal Association; Ted Hapney, UMWA; Terry Hudson, Patriot Coal; Carl Egnor, UMWA; Charles Russell, Arch Coal; and Gary Trout, UMWA.

For additional information, contact Joel Watts at (304) 957-2306.