The need for a Respirable Dust Monitor
It wasn’t until August 1st, 2014; a groundbreaking respirable dust rule went into effect. The rule which was introduced by the United States Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) further adds to the increased list of various protections designed for coal miners. While effectively closing some loopholes that expose workers to unhealthy coal mine dust at the workplace.
The rules have been part of a government joined efforts aimed at monitoring and reducing the risk of respirable dust. This dust is harmful to human health, particularly for mine workers.
The historical path to ending risk of respirable dust
Since 2009, the battle to end or minimize the life-threatening effects of respirable dust gain momentum following the launching of the “End Black Lung–Act Now.” The campaign enables the mining industry and government watchdog agencies like the MSHA to turn from mere safety matters to critical health challenges in the mining sector. Efforts to lower silica and levels of respirable coal mine dust in the country’s coal mines were ramped up. They have remained on track in the aftermath of the “End Black Lung—Act Now!”
Effects of the respirable coal dust rule
The respirable coal dust rule that went into effect on August 1st, 2014. It was another indication of government efforts to curtail the negative effects of respirable dust on coal mine workers and the environment at large. During this period, dust samples results collected by the MSHA, containing this new rule, indicates that compliance can be achieved. Most importantly, the results show that samples from the dustiest occupations in underground coal mine facilities dropped to a record low of 0.64 milligrams per cubic meter (mg/m3) for 2016. This was far better than the 2015 average year sample record of 0.70 mg/m3.
What the new respirable dust rule entails is that miners across the nation’s coal mines are now better protected. This improvement is better than before from the destructive black lung diseases.
Certification testing introduced by the new rule of August 1st, 2014
The new respirable coal dust rule requires that every certified person must pass the applicable MSHA examination. The examination demonstrates competence in sampling procedures slated under the final mark of 70.202. Or they will undergo a competency in calibration and maintenance under a final mark of 70.203, for every three years.
Such certification and its strict application have led to a great reduction in cases of black lungs. Seeing the general effects of respirable coal dust among mine workers reduced from 2014 till 2017. For instance, data released by the MSHA for October 1, 2015, to September 30, 2016, shows there were only 24 deaths recorded in more than 13,000 mines across the nation. This is the lowest from the 34 recorded in 2013.
The MSHA is currently working on a fixed certification testing schedule that will include location and time of test schedules. The third phase of the MSHA respirable dust rule took effect from August 1st, 2016, to date.
Results show that the concentration level of respirable coal mine dust in the air has been limited from 2.0 mg/m3 to 1.5 mg/m3 at the surface and underground coal mines. Also, the concentration for respirable dust is lowered from a range of 1.0 mg/m3 to 0.5 mg/m3 regarding intake air at underground mines, and for miners suffering from pneumoconiosis.
The MSHA has been making a giant stride in the quest to minimize the level of respirable coal mine dust in the air, under and around mining locations in the United States. These efforts have been a work-in-progress, spanning a period of years, with success recorded on every new sample year.
Linda Rawson is the CEO, and Founder of DynaGrace Enterprises, (http://DynaGrace.com) which is a Women-Owned, 8(a) Minority, Small Business. She is also the author of The Minority and Women-Owned Small Business Guide to Government Contracts.