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DOL/MSHA RIN: 1219-AB64 Publication ID: Spring 2011
Title: Lowering Miners' Exposure to Coal Mine Dust, Including Continuous Personal Dust Monitors
Abstract: The Federal Coal Mine Health and Safety Act of 1969 established the first comprehensive respirable dust standards for coal mines. These standards were designed to reduce the incidence of coal workers' pneumoconiosis (CWP or black lung) and silicosis and eventually eliminate these diseases. While significant progress has been made toward improving the health conditions in our Nation's coal mines, miners continue to be at risk of developing occupational lung disease, according to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH). In September 1995, NIOSH issued a Criteria Document in which it recommended that the respirable coal mine dust permissible exposure limit (PEL) be cut in half. In February 1996, the Secretary of Labor convened a Federal Advisory Committee on the Elimination of Pneumoconiosis Among Coal Miners (Advisory Committee) to assess the adequacy of MSHA's current program and standards to control respirable dust in underground and surface coal mines, as well as other ways to eliminate black lung and silicosis among coal miners. The Committee represented the labor, industry and academic communities. The Committee submitted its report to the Secretary of Labor in November 1996, with the majority of the recommendations unanimously supported by the Committee members. The Committee recommended a number of actions to reduce miners' exposure to respirable coal mine dust. This proposed rule is an important element in MSHA's Comprehensive Black Lung Reduction Strategy (Strategy) to "End Black Lung Now" and combines the following rulemaking actions: (1) "Occupational Exposure to Coal Mine Dust (Lowering Exposure)," RIN 1219-AB64; (2) "Verification of Underground Coal Mine Operators' Dust Control Plans and Compliance Sampling for Respirable Dust," RIN 1219-AB14; (3) "Determination of Concentration of Respirable Coal Mine Dust," RIN 1219-AB18; and (4) "Respirable Coal Mine Dust: Continuous Personal Dust Monitor (CPDM)," RIN 1219-AB48.
Agency: Department of Labor(DOL) Priority: Other Significant
RIN Status: Previously published in the Unified Agenda Agenda Stage of Rulemaking: Proposed Rule Stage
Major: No Unfunded Mandates: No
CFR Citation: 30 CFR 70; 30 CFR 71; 30 CFR 72; 30 CFR 75; 30 CFR 90
Legal Authority: 30 USC 811; 30 USC 813(h)
Legal Deadline: None

Statement of Need: Comprehensive respirable dust standards for coal mines were designed to reduce the incidence, and eventually eliminate, CWP and silicosis. While significant progress has been made toward improving the health conditions in our Nation's coal mines, miners remain at risk of developing occupational lung disease, according to NIOSH. Recent NIOSH data indicates increased prevalence of CWP "clusters" in several geographical areas, particularly in the Southern Appalachian Region.

Summary of the Legal Basis: Promulgation of this regulation is authorized by the Federal Mine Safety and Health Act of 1977 as amended by the Mine Improvement and New Emergency Response Act of 2006.

Alternatives: MSHA is considering amendments, revisions, and additions to existing standards.

Anticipated Costs and Benefits: MSHA developed a preliminary regulatory economic analysis to accompany the proposed rule.

Risks: Respirable coal dust is one of the most serious occupational hazards in the mining industry. Occupational exposure to excessive levels of respirable coal mine dust can cause coal workers' pneumoconiosis and silicosis, which are potentially disabling and can cause death. MSHA is pursuing both regulatory and nonregulatory actions to eliminate these diseases through the control of coal mine respirable dust levels in mines and reduction of miners' exposure. MSHA developed a risk assessment to accompany the proposed rule.

Action Date FR Cite
NPRM 10/19/2010 75 FR 64412
Notice of Public Hearings; Corrections 11/15/2010 75 FR 69617
NPRM-Rescheduling of Public Hearings; Correction 11/30/2010 75 FR 73995
NPRM Comment Period End 02/28/2011 75 FR 64412
Public Hearing 12/07/2010
Public Hearing 01/11/2011
Public Hearing 01/13/2011
Public Hearing 01/25/2011
Public Hearing 02/08/2011
Public Hearing 02/10/2011
Public Hearing 02/15/2011
NPRM Comment Period Extended 01/14/2011 76 FR 2617
Request for Comment 03/08/2011 76 FR 12648
NPRM Comment Period End 05/02/2011
NPRM Comment Period Extended 05/04/2011 76 FR 25277
NPRM Comment Period Extended 05/27/2011 76 FR 30878
NPRM Comment Period End 06/20/2011
Final Rule 04/00/2012
Regulatory Flexibility Analysis Required: No Government Levels Affected: None
Small Entities Affected: Businesses Federalism: No
Included in the Regulatory Plan: Yes
RIN Information URL: Public Comment URL:
RIN Data Printed in the FR: No
Agency Contact:
Roslyn B. Fontaine
Acting Director, Office of Standards, Regulations, and Variances
Department of Labor
Mine Safety and Health Administration
Department of Labor, 1100 Wilson Boulevard, Room 2350,
Arlington, VA 22209-3939
Phone:202 693-9440
Fax:202 693-9441