MSHA Announces Final Rule Lowering Miners’ Exposure Limits to Respirable Coal Dust; Rule Will Be Challenged

The Mine Safety and Health Administration announced today that on May 1, 2014, it will release a final rule to lower miners’ exposure to respirable coal mine dust in underground and surface coal mines.  The final rule lowers miners’ acceptable exposure to respirable coal dust by reducing the overall dust standard from 2.0 to 1.5 milligrams per cubic meter of air and cutting the standard in half for certain mine entries and miners suffering from pneumoconiosis.  Further, according to MSHA, the rule closes loopholes in current regulations and improves dust sampling practices by requiring that samples be taken more frequently and with better technology.  These new sampling practices would provide real-time information on dust levels.  The final rule will be phased in over a two-year period.  A copy of the final rule is available here.  Lawsuits are expected to be filed challenging the rule.

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