United States Code
USC most recently checked for updates: Mar 24, 2023
Each operator of a coal mine shall take reasonable measures to locate oil and gas wells penetrating coalbeds or any underground area of a coal mine. When located, such operator shall establish and maintain barriers around such oil and gas wells in accordance with State laws and regulations, except that such barriers shall not be less than three hundred feet in diameter, unless the Secretary or his authorized representative permits a lesser barrier consistent with the applicable State laws and regulations where such lesser barrier will be adequate to protect against hazards from such wells to the miners in such mine, or unless the Secretary or his authorized representative requires a greater barrier where the depth of the mine, other geologic conditions, or other factors warrant such a greater barrier.
Whenever any working place approaches within fifty feet of abandoned areas in the mine as shown by surveys made and certified by a registered engineer or surveyor, or within two hundred feet of any other abandoned areas of the mine which cannot be inspected and which may contain dangerous accumulations of water or gas, or within two hundred feet of any workings of an adjacent mine, a borehole or boreholes shall be drilled to a distance of at least twenty feet in advance of the working face of such working place and shall be continually maintained to a distance of at least ten feet in advance of the advancing working face. When there is more than one borehole, they shall be drilled sufficiently close to each other to insure that the advancing working face will not accidentally hole through into abandoned areas or adjacent mines. Boreholes shall also be drilled not more than eight feet apart in the rib of such working place to a distance of at least twenty feet and at an angle of forty-five degrees. Such rib holes shall be drilled in one or both ribs of such working place as may be necessary for adequate protection of miners in such place.
No person shall smoke, carry smoking materials, matches, or lighters underground, or smoke in or around oil houses, explosives magazines, or other surface areas where such practice may cause a fire or explosion. The operator shall institute a program, approved by the Secretary, to insure that any person entering the underground area of the mine does not carry smoking materials, matches, or lighters.
Persons underground shall use only permissible electric lamps approved by the Secretary for portable illumination. No open flame shall be permitted in the underground area of any coal mine, except as permitted under section 871(d) of this title.
Within nine months after the operative date of this subchapter, the Secretary shall propose the standards under which all working places in a mine shall be illuminated by permissible lighting, within eighteen months after the promulgation of such standards, while persons are working in such places.
After the operative date of this subchapter, all structures erected on the surface within one hundred feet of any mine opening shall be of fireproof construction. Unless structures existing on or prior to such date which are located within one hundred feet of any mine opening are of such construction, fire doors shall be erected at effective points in mine openings to prevent smoke or fire from outside sources endangering miners underground. These doors shall be tested at least monthly to insure effective operation. A record of such tests shall be kept in an area on the surface of the mine chosen by the operator to minimize the danger of destruction by fire or other hazard and shall be available for inspection by interested persons.
Adequate measures shall be taken to prevent methane and coal dust from accumulating in excessive concentrations in or on surface coal-handling facilities, but in no event shall methane be permitted to accumulate in concentrations in or on surface coal-handling facilities in excess of limits established for methane by the Secretary within one year after the operative date of this subchapter. Where coal is dumped at or near air-intake openings, provisions shall be made to avoid dust from entering the mine.
Every operator of a coal mine shall provide a program, approved by the Secretary, of training and retraining of both qualified and certified persons needed to carry out functions prescribed in this chapter.
An authorized representative of the Secretary may require in any coal mine where the height of the coalbed permits that electric face equipment, including shuttle cars, be provided with substantially constructed canopies or cabs to protect the miners operating such equipment from roof falls and from rib and face rolls.
On and after the operative date of this subchapter, the opening of any coal mine that is declared inactive by its operator or is permanently closed or abandoned for more than ninety days, shall be sealed by the operator in a manner prescribed by the Secretary. Openings of all other mines shall be adequately protected in a manner prescribed by the Secretary to prevent entrance by unauthorized persons.
The Secretary may require any operator to provide adequate facilities for the miners to change from the clothes worn underground, to provide for the storing of such clothes from shift to shift, and to provide sanitary and bathing facilities. Sanitary toilet facilities shall be provided in the active workings of the mine when such surface facilities are not readily accessible to the active workings.
Each operator shall make arrangements in advance for obtaining emergency medical assistance and transportation for injured persons. Emergency communications shall be provided to the nearest point of assistance. Selected agents of the operator shall be trained in first aid and first aid training shall be made available to all miners. Each coal mine shall have an adequate supply of first aid equipment located on the surface, at the bottom of shafts and slopes, and at other strategic locations near the working faces. In fulfilling each of the requirements of this subsection, the operator shall meet at least minimum requirements prescribed by the Secretary of Health and Human Services. Within two months after the operative date of this subchapter, each operator shall file with the Secretary a plan setting forth in such detail as the Secretary may require the manner in which such operator has fulfilled the requirements in this subsection.
A self-rescue device approved by the Secretary shall be made available to each miner by the operator which shall be adequate to protect such miner for one hour or longer. Each operator shall train each miner in the use of such device.
The Secretary shall prescribe improved methods of assuring that miners are not exposed to atmospheres that are deficient in oxygen.
Each operator of a coal mine shall establish a check-in and check-out system which will provide positive identification of every person underground, and will provide an accurate record of the persons in the mine kept on the surface in a place chosen to minimize the danger of destruction by fire or other hazard. Such record shall bear a number identical to an identification check that is securely fastened to the lamp belt worn by the person underground. The identification check shall be made of a rust resistant metal of not less than sixteen gauge.
The Secretary shall require, when technologically feasible, that devices to prevent and suppress ignitions be installed on electric face cutting equipment.
Whenever an operator mines coal from a coal mine opened after the operative date of this subchapter, or from any new working section of a mine opened prior to such date, in a manner that requires the construction, operation, and maintenance of tunnels under any river, stream, lake, or other body of water, that is, in the judgment of the Secretary, sufficiently large to constitute a hazard to miners, such operator shall obtain a permit from the Secretary which shall include such terms and conditions as he deems appropriate to protect the safety of miners working or passing through such tunnels from cave-ins and other hazards. Such permits shall require, in accordance with a plan to be approved by the Secretary, that a safety zone be established beneath and adjacent to such body of water. No plan shall be approved unless there is a minimum of cover to be determined by the Secretary, based on test holes drilled by the operator in a manner to be prescribed by the Secretary. No such permit shall be required in the case of any new working section of a mine which is located under any water resource reservoir being constructed by a Federal agency on
An adequate supply of potable water shall be provided for drinking purposes in the active workings of the mine, and such water shall be carried, stored, and otherwise protected in sanitary containers.
Within one year after the operative date of this subchapter, the Secretary shall propose standards for preventing explosions from explosive gases other than methane and for testing for accumulations of such gases.