[Federal Register Volume 61, Number 229 (Tuesday, November 26, 1996)]
[Notices]
[Pages 60120-60121]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 96-30120]


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DEPARTMENT OF LABOR
Mine Safety and Health Administration
RIN 1219-AA81


Advisory Committee on the Elimination of Pneumoconiosis Among 
Coal Mine Workers; Final Report

AGENCY: Mine Safety and Health Administration, Labor.

ACTION: Notice of availability of final report.

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SUMMARY: This notice announces the availability of the final report of 
the Secretary of Labor's Advisory Committee on the Elimination of 
Pneumoconiosis Among Coal Mine Workers (Advisory Committee).

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Patricia W. Silvey, Director, Office 
of Standards, Regulations, and Variances, Mine Safety and Health 
Administration, 4015 Wilson Boulevard, Room 631, Arlington, Virginia 
22203; phone 703-235-1910.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: The Advisory Committee on the Elimination of 
Pneumoconiosis Among Coal Mine Workers (Advisory Committee) was 
established by the Secretary of Labor on January 31, 1995, in 
accordance with the provisions of the Federal Advisory Committee Act 
(FACA) and Sections 101(a) and 102(c) of the Federal Mine Safety and 
Health Act of 1977, and was chartered under the provisions of FACA.
    The Advisory Committee was charged to make recommendations to the 
Secretary for improved standards, or other appropriate actions, on 
permissible exposure limits to eliminate black lung disease and 
silicosis; the means to control respirable coal mine dust levels; 
improved monitoring of respirable coal mine dust levels and the role of 
the miner in that monitoring; and the adequacy of the operators' 
current sampling program to determine the actual levels of dust 
concentrations to which miners are exposed.
    The nine-member Advisory Committee visited three working mines and 
held five public meetings during which it reviewed an extensive amount 
of material and heard formal presentations from a number of technical 
experts on respirable dust control and measurement. The Advisory 
Committee also heard from some 75 members of the public including many 
miners. The Advisory Committee has issued its final report to the 
Secretary of Labor.
    This report is available to interested members of the public and 
may be obtained upon request to: Patricia W. Silvey, Director, Office 
of Standards, Regulations, and Variances, 4015 Wilson Boulevard, Room 
631, Arlington, Virginia 22203; phone 703- 235-1910. The report is also 
available on MSHAs Homepage on the World Wide Web at: http://
www.msha.gov.
    The Advisory Committee unanimously recommended that the Mine Safety 
and Health Administration (MSHA) take full responsibility for all coal 
mine dust sampling conducted to determine compliance with exposure 
standards. As an interim measure, the group recommended that the 
current program of dust sampling by mine operators be strengthened, for 
example, by requiring only one full-shift sample to determine 
noncompliance rather than averaging five such samples.
    Among other recommendations, the Advisory Committee said MSHA 
should:
    1. Consider lowering the allowable exposure limit on coal mine 
dust;
    2. Establish separate permissible exposure limits for silica 
(quartz) and coal mine dust;
    3. Reduce silica exposure of coal miners to prevent silicosis;
    4. Make better checks on the effectiveness of mine operators' dust 
control plans before MSHA approves them;
    5. Improve dust control in surface coal mines;
    6. Focus on dust exposure of independent contractor employees in 
coal mines;
    7. Improve miner training on dust;
    8. Expand the paid ``walkaround rights'' of miners' representatives 
to include participation in dust sampling;
    9. Have mine operators pay for expanded government dust sampling;

[[Page 60121]]

    10. Continue to push research on ways to achieve continuous 
monitoring of dust levels;
    11. Include surface miners in periodic x-rays offered to 
underground coal miners; and
    12. Further review the program required by 30 CFR part 90 that 
allows miners with signs of black lung to transfer into low-dust jobs.
    Initial review of the final report by MSHA indicates that the 
Agency can adopt some of the recommendations quickly through 
administrative changes; however, some recommendations that require 
research or rulemaking may take a year or more to implement. The Agency 
plans to begin work immediately.

    Dated: November 20, 1996.
J. Davitt McAteer,
Assistant Secretary for Mine Safety and Health.
[FR Doc. 96-30120 Filed 11-25-96; 8:45 am]
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