H. B. 2592
(By Delegate McGraw)
[Introduced January 14, 1998; referred to the
Committee on Industry and Labor then the Judiciary.]
A BILL to amend and reenact section thirty-five, article one,
chapter twenty-two-a of the code of West Virginia, one
thousand nine hundred thirty-one, as amended, relating to
miners' health, safety and training; and mine rescue teams.
Be it enacted by the Legislature of West Virginia:
That section thirty-five, article one, chapter twenty-two-a
of the code of West Virginia, one thousand nine hundred
thirty-one, as amended, be amended and reenacted to read as
ARTICLE 1. OFFICE OF MINERS' HEALTH, SAFETY AND TRAINING;
§22A-1-35. Mine rescue teams.
(a) It is the responsibility of the operator to provide mine
rescue coverage at each active underground mine. Any underground mine operator who employs more than fifty miners shall establish
a separate mine rescue team for that mine.
(b) Mine rescue coverage may be provided by:
(1) Establishing at least two mine rescue teams which are
available at all times when miners are underground; or
(2) Entering into an arrangement for mine rescue services
which assures that at least two mine rescue teams are available
at all times when miners are underground: Provided, That a
single mine rescue team may not serve more than fifteen mines.
(c) As used in this section, mine rescue teams shall be
considered available where teams are capable of presenting
themselves at the mine site(s) within a reasonable time after
notification of an occurrence which might require their services.
Rescue team members will be considered available even though
performing regular work duties or while in an off-duty capacity.
The requirement that mine rescue teams be available does not
apply when teams are participating in mine rescue contests or
providing rescue services to another mine.
(d) In the event of a fire, explosion or recovery operations
in or about any mine, the director is hereby authorized to assign
any mine rescue team to said mine to protect and preserve life
and property. The director may also assign mine rescue and
recovery work to inspectors, instructors or other qualified employees of the office as he or she deems necessary.
(e) The ground travel time between any mine rescue station
and any mine served by that station shall not exceed two hours.
To ensure adequate rescue coverage for all underground mines, no
mine rescue station may provide coverage for more than seventy
mines within the two-hour ground travel limit as defined in this
(f) Each mine rescue team shall consist of five members and
one alternate, who are fully qualified, trained and equipped for
providing emergency mine rescue service. Each mine rescue team
shall be trained by a state certified mine rescue instructor.
(g) Each member of a mine rescue team must have been
employed in an underground mine for a minimum of one year. For
the purpose of mine rescue work only, miners who are employed on
the surface but work regularly underground meet the experience
requirement. The underground experience requirement is waived
for those members of a mine rescue team on the effective date of
(h) An applicant for initial mine rescue training must not
have reached his or her fiftieth birthday, and shall pass, on at
least an annual basis, a physical examination by a licensed
physician certifying his or her fitness to perform mine rescue
work. A record that such examination was taken, together with pertinent data relating thereto, shall be kept on file by the
operator and a copy shall be furnished to the director.
(i) Upon completion of the initial training, all mine rescue
team members shall receive at least forty hours of refresher
training annually. This training shall be given at least four
hours each month, or for a period of eight hours every two
months, and shall include:
(1) Sessions underground at least once every six months;
(2) The wearing and use of a breathing apparatus by team
members for a period of at least two hours, while under oxygen,
once every two months;
(3) Where applicable, the use, care, capabilities and
limitations of auxiliary mine rescue equipment, or a different
(4) Mine map training and ventilation procedures.
(j) When engaged in rescue work required by an explosion,
fire or other emergency at a mine, all members of mine rescue
teams assigned to rescue operations shall, during the period of
their rescue work, be employees of the operator of the mine where
the emergency exists, and shall be compensated by the operator at
the rate established in the area for such work. In no case shall
this rate be less than the prevailing wage rate in the industry
for the most skilled class of inside mine labor. During the period of their emergency employment, members of mine rescue
teams shall be protected by the workers' compensation
subscription of such emergency employer.
(k) During the recovery work and prior to entering any mine
at the start of each shift, all rescue or recovery teams shall be
properly informed of existing conditions and work to be performed
by the designated company official in charge.
(1) For every two teams performing rescue or recovery work
underground, one six-member team shall be stationed at the mine
(2) Each rescue or recovery team performing work with a
breathing apparatus shall be provided with a backup team of equal
number, stationed at each fresh air base.
(3) Two-way communication and a lifeline or its equivalent
shall be provided at each fresh air base for all mine rescue or
recovery teams and no mine rescue team member shall advance more
than one thousand feet inby the fresh air base: Provided, That
if a life may possibly be saved and existing conditions do not
create an unreasonable hazard to mine rescue team members, the
rescue team may advance a distance agreed upon by those persons
directing the mine rescue or recovery operations: Provided,
however, That a lifeline or its equivalent shall be provided in
each fresh air base for all mine rescue or recovery teams.
(4) A rescue or recovery team shall immediately return to
the fresh air base when the atmospheric pressure of any member's
breathing apparatus depletes to sixty atmospheres, or its
(l) Mine rescue stations shall provide a centralized storage
location for rescue equipment. This storage location may be
either at the mine site, affiliated mines or a separate mine
rescue structure. All mine rescue teams shall be guided by the
mine rescue apparatus and auxiliary equipment manual. Each mine
rescue station shall be provided with at least the following
(1) Twelve self-contained oxygen breathing apparatuses, each
with a minimum of two hours capacity, and any necessary equipment
for testing such breathing apparatuses;
(2) A portable supply of liquid air, liquid oxygen,
pressurized oxygen, oxygen generating or carbon dioxide absorbent
chemicals, as applicable to the supplied breathing apparatuses
and sufficient to sustain each team for six hours while using the
breathing apparatuses during rescue operations;
(3) One extra, fully charged, oxygen bottle for each
self-contained compressed oxygen breathing apparatus, as required
under subdivision (1) of this subsection;
(4) One oxygen pump or a cascading system, compatible with the supplied breathing apparatuses;
(5) Twelve permissible cap lamps and a charging rack;
(6) Two gas detectors appropriate for each type of gas which
may be encountered at the mines served;
(7) Two oxygen indicators or two flame safety lamps;
(8) One portable mine rescue communication system or a
sound-powered communication system. The wires or cable to the
communication system shall be of sufficient tensile strength to
be used as a manual communication system. The communication
system shall be at least one thousand feet in length; and
(9) Necessary spare parts and tools for repairing the
breathing apparatuses and communication system, as presently
prescribed by the manufacturer.
(m) Mine rescue apparatuses and equipment shall be
maintained in a manner that will ensure readiness for immediate
use. A person trained in the use and care of breathing
apparatuses shall inspect and test the apparatuses at intervals
not exceeding thirty days and shall certify by signature and date
that the inspections and tests were done. When the inspection
indicates that a corrective action is necessary, the corrective
action shall be made and recorded by said person. The
certification and corrective action records shall be maintained
at the mine rescue station for a period of one year and made available on request to an authorized representative of the
(n) Authorized representatives of the director have the
right of entry to inspect any designated mine rescue station.
(o) When an authorized representative finds a violation of
any of the mine rescue requirements, the representative shall
take appropriate corrective action in accordance with section
fifteen of this article.
(p) Operators affiliated with a station issued an order by
an authorized representative will be notified of that order and
that their mine rescue program is invalid. The operators shall
have twenty-four hours to submit to the director a revised mine
(q) Every operator of an underground mine shall develop and
adopt a mine rescue program for submission to the director within
thirty days of the effective date of this statute: Provided,
That a new program need only be submitted when conditions exist
as defined in subsection (p) of this section, or when information
contained within the program has changed.
(r) A copy of the mine rescue program shall be posted at the
mine and kept on file at the operator's mine rescue station or
rescue station affiliate and the state regional office where the
mine is located. A copy of the mine emergency notification plan filed pursuant to 30 CFR §49.9(a) will satisfy the requirements
of subsection (q) of this section if submitted to the director.
(s) The operator shall immediately notify the director of
any changed conditions materially affecting the information
submitted in the mine rescue program.
NOTE: The purpose of this bill is to limit the number of
mines that a mine rescue team is responsible for serving to
fifteen and to require operators of underground mines who employ
more than fifty miners to maintain a separate mine rescue team.
Strike-throughs indicate language that would be stricken
from the present law, and underscoring indicates new language
that would be added.