Between August 1 and September 30, MSHA collected 4,255 dust samples from 515 coal mines; 20 of those (or nearly 0.5%) exceeded compliance levels used to determine if a violation is warranted. Of the 3,201 samples submitted by mine operators, 42 (or 1.3%) exceeded compliance levels.

The new dust rule took effect on August 1, substantially increases operator sampling for respirable coal mine dust and requires an operator to take immediate corrective action when an operator’s sample shows excessive concentrations. The final rule authorizes MSHA to cite an operator based on a single MSHA sample showing excessive dust, rather than on an average of samples.

“These samples were all generated under the new, more rigid standard that requires them to be taken when mines are operating at 80% production or more,” said Joseph Main, assistant secretary of labor for mine safety and health. “And the results clearly show that mine operators are able to comply with the rule. That’s good news for the health of all coal miners and our efforts to end black lung disease.”

In collaboration with the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), MSHA will host a series of workshops on Best Practices for Controlling Respirable Dust in Coal Mines. “These workshops are part of MSHA’s ongoing commitment to assist the mining industry in the implementation of the new rule,” said Main.

The first workshop will take place on Tuesday, October 28, at the National Mine Health and Safety Academy in Beaver, West Virginia. Mine managers and operational staff, mine workers, safety and health professionals, mine engineers, manufacturers and consultants are encouraged to attend. Additional workshops will be held in Birmingham, Alabama; Evansville, Indiana; and Grand Junction, Colorado, in 2015.