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DOL/MSHA News Release No. 02-115
Mine Safety and Health Administration
Contact: Rodney Brown
Phone: (703) 235-1452

Released Wednesday, February 27, 2002

MSHA Issues New Rules On DPM Exposure
New Requirements Supplement Regulations Issued January 2001

ARLINGTON, Va.-The U.S. Department of Labor's Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) today issued a final rule addressing miners' exposure to diesel particulate matter (DPM) in underground metal and nonmetal mining operations. Two new provisions published today clarify and amend requirements addressed in the comprehensive rule governing exposure to DPM at metal and nonmetal mines, issued in January 2001.

"This is a very important step toward completing the entire rule addressing diesel exposure for mine workers at metal and nonmetal mining operations," said Dave Lauriski, assistant secretary of labor for mine safety and health. "The successful implementation of these provisions demonstrates the benefits of cooperation between government, labor, and industry where disagreements may exist on important issues relating to miners' health."

The final rule specifies what evidence a miner needs to determine tagging of diesel equipment for prompt examination. The rule clarifies the term "evidence" to mean visible smoke or odor that is unusual for the equipment under normal operating procedures, or obvious or visible defects in the exhaust emissions control system or in the diesel engine. The rule also clarifies "prompt" to mean before the end of the next shift during which a qualified mechanic is scheduled to work.

The final rule also clarifies that mine operators can transfer diesel engines or equipment from the inventory of one underground mine to another underground mine operated by the same mine operator.

DPM is a microscopic-size particle found in diesel exhaust. Underground miners are exposed to far higher concentrations of this substance that any other group of workers. Overexposure to high concentrations of DPM results in a variety of serious health problems, including diseases such as lung cancer, heart failure and other cardiopulmonary problems.

See Final Rule