(1) That the first priority and concern of all persons in the coal mining industry must be the health and safety of its most precious resource -- the miner;
(2) That in furtherance of this priority, the provisions of article two of this chapter are designed to protect the health and safety of this state's coal miners by requiring certain minimum standards for, among other things, certain health and safety technology used by each underground miner;
(3) That the proper implementation of this technology in West Virginia's underground mines would benefit from the specialized oversight of persons with experience and competence in coal mining, coal mine health and safety and the expanding role of technology; and
(4) That, in furtherance of provisions of this section, it is the intent of the Legislature to create a permanent task force which, on a continuous basis, shall evaluate and study issues relating to the commercial availability and functional and operational capability of existing and emerging technologies in coal mine health and safety, as well as issues relating to the implementation, compliance and enforcement of regulatory requirements governing the technologies.
(b) The task force shall consist of seven voting members and two ex officio, nonvoting members who are appointed as specified in this section:
(1) The Governor shall appoint, by and with the advice and consent of the Senate, three members to represent the viewpoint of operators in this state. When these members are to be appointed, the Governor shall request from the major trade association representing operators in this state a list of three nominees for each position on the task force. All nominees shall be persons with special experience and competence in coal mine health and safety. There shall be submitted with the list, a summary of the qualifications of each nominee. For purposes of this subdivision, the major trade association representing operators in this state is that association which represents operators accounting for over one half of the coal produced in mines in this state in the year prior to the year in which the appointment is to be made.
(2) The Governor shall appoint, by and with the advice and consent of the Senate, three members who can reasonably be expected to represent the viewpoint of the working miners of this state. When members are to be appointed, the Governor shall request from the major employee organization representing coal miners within this state a list of three nominees for each position on the task force. The highest ranking official within the major employee organization representing coal miners within this state shall submit a list of three nominees for each position on the board. The nominees shall have a background in coal mine health and safety.
(3) The Governor shall appoint, by and with the advice and consent of the Senate, one certified mine safety professional from the College of Engineering and Mineral Resources at West Virginia University;
(4) The Health and Safety Administrator, pursuant to section six, article six of this chapter, shall serve as a member of the task force as an ex officio, nonvoting member; and
(5) The Director of the Office of Miner's Health, Safety and Training or his or her designee, shall serve as a ex officio, nonvoting member.
(c) Each appointed member of the task force shall serve at the will and pleasure of the Governor.
(d) Whenever a vacancy on the task force occurs, nominations and appointments shall be made in the manner prescribed in this section: Provided, That in the case of an appointment to fill a vacancy, nominations of three persons for each vacancy shall be requested by and submitted to the Governor within thirty days after the vacancy occurs by the major trade association or major employee organization, if any, which nominated the person whose seat on the task force is vacant.
(e) Each member of the task force shall be paid the expense reimbursement, as is paid to members of the Legislature for their interim duties as recommended by the Citizens Legislative Compensation Commission and authorized by law for each day or portion thereof engaged in the discharge of official duties. In the event the expenses are paid by a third party, the member shall not be reimbursed by the state. The reimbursement shall be paid out of the State Treasury upon a requisition upon the State Auditor, properly certified by the Office of Miners' Health, Safety and Training. An employer shall not prohibit a member of the task force from exercising leave of absence from his or her place of employment in order to attend a meeting of the task force or a meeting of a subcommittee of the task force, or to prepare for a meeting of the task force, any contract of employment to the contrary notwithstanding.
(b) The task force, working in conjunction with the director, shall continue to study issues regarding the commercial availability, the functional and operational capability and the implementation, compliance and enforcement of the following protective equipment:
(1) Self-contained self-rescue devices, as provided in subsection (f), section fifty-five, article two of this chapter;
(2) Wireless emergency communication devices, as provided in subsection (g), section fifty-five, article two of this chapter;
(3) Wireless emergency tracking devices, as provided in subsection (h), section fifty-five, article two of this chapter; and
(4) Any other protective equipment required by this chapter or rules promulgated in accordance with the law that the director determines would benefit from the expertise of the task force.
(c) The task force shall on a continuous basis study, monitor and evaluate:
(1) The potential for enhancing coal mine health and safety through the application of existing technologies and techniques;
(2) Opportunities for improving the integration of technologies and procedures to increase the performance and survivability of coal mine health and safety systems;
(3) Emerging technological advances in coal mine health and safety; and
(4) Market forces impacting the development of new technologies, including issues regarding the costs of research and development, regulatory certification and incentives designed to stimulate the marketplace.
(d) On or before July 1 of each year, the task force shall submit a report to the Governor and the board of Coal Mine Health and Safety that shall include, but not be limited to:
(1) A comprehensive overview of issues regarding the implementation of the new technological requirements set forth in the provisions of section fifty-five, article two of this chapter, or rules promulgated in accordance with the law;
(2) A summary of any emerging technological advances that would improve coal mine health and safety;
(3) Recommendations, if any, for the enactment, repeal or amendment of any statute which would enhance technological advancement in coal mine health and safety; and
(4) Any other information the task force considers appropriate.
(e) In performing its duties, the task force shall, where possible, consult with, among others, mine engineering and mine safety experts, radiocommunication and telemetry experts and relevant state and federal regulatory personnel.
(f) Appropriations to the task force commission and to effectuate the purposes of this article shall be made to one or more budget accounts established for that purpose.
(g) The task force shall annually compile a proposed list of approved innovative mine safety technologies and transmit the list to the Director of the Office of Miners' Health, Safety and Training as provided in section four, article thirteen-BB, chapter eleven of this code. The list shall be approved by unanimous vote of the task force.
Note: WV Code updated with legislation passed through the 2012 1st Special Session