Refuge Alternatives for Underground Coal Mines, 41364-41368 [2020-13753]

Download as PDF 41364 Federal Register / Vol. 85, No. 133 / Friday, July 10, 2020 / Rules and Regulations containing business proprietary information in AD/CVD proceedings administered by E&C until May 19, 2020, unless extended. Temporary Rule Modifying AD/CVD Service Requirements Due to COVID–19, 85 FR 17006 (March 26, 2020) (Temporary Final Rule). On May 18, 2020, E&C published a notification extending the temporary modifications through July 17, 2020. Temporary Rule Modifying AD/CVD Service Requirements Due to COVID–19; Extension of Effective Period, 85 FR 29615 (May 18, 2020). The temporary modifications were implemented to facilitate the effectuation of service through electronic means, with the goal of promoting public health and slowing the spread of COVID–19 while at the same time permitting the continued administration of AD/CVD proceedings. E&C explained that the service requirements in its regulations are often effectuated by hand delivery or by U.S. mail delivery of hard copy documents, which frequently takes place in an office setting. In turn, this could pose a risk to the personnel tasked with serving or accepting service by hand or mail, as well as those around them. Based on these circumstances, E&C announced that it would temporarily deem service of submissions containing business proprietary information (BPI) to be effectuated when the BPI submissions are filed by parties in ACCESS, with certain exceptions. With the continued goal of promoting public health during these times while at the same time permitting the continued administration of AD/CVD proceedings, E&C is extending the date through which the modified service requirements in the Temporary Final Rule will be in effect. This is the second extension of the temporary final rule. For efficiency purposes, and with the continued goal identified above in mind, instead of again setting a termination date for the temporary final rule, the temporary final rule will remain in effect until further notice. Commerce will publish a document announcing the termination date in the Federal Register. Extension The modified service requirements announced in the Temporary Final Rule will remain in effect until further notice. jbell on DSKJLSW7X2PROD with RULES Classification Administrative Procedure Act The provisions of the Administrative Procedure Act (5 U.S.C. 553) requiring notice of proposed rulemaking and the opportunity for public participation are waived for good cause because they VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:12 Jul 09, 2020 Jkt 250001 would be impracticable and contrary to the public interest. (See 5 U.S.C. 553(b)(B)). Interested parties participating in E&C’s AD/CVD proceedings are generally required to serve other interested parties with documents they submit to E&C. If notice and comment were to be allowed, parties submitting documents containing BPI information to E&C likely either would be unable to serve other parties in the manners prescribed in E&C’s regulations, or potentially would put their health and safety at risk in doing so. COVID–19 was unexpected and this circumstance could not have been foreseen; therefore E&C could not have prepared ahead of time for this set of circumstances. The provision of the Administrative Procedure Act otherwise requiring a 30-day delay in effectiveness is also waived for those same reasons, which constitute good cause. (5 U.S.C. 553(d)(3)). Executive Order 12866 The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) has determined that this temporary rule is not significant for purposes of Executive Order 12866. Executive Order 13771 This temporary rule is not expected to be subject to the requirements of Executive Order 13771 because this temporary rule is not significant for purposes of Executive Order 12866. Paperwork Reduction Act This temporary rule contains no new collection of information subject to the Paperwork Reduction Act, 44 U.S.C. Chapter 35. Executive Order 13132 This temporary rule does not contain policies with federalism implications as that term is defined in section 1(a) of Executive Order 13132, dated August 4, 1999 (64 FR 43255 (August 10, 1999)). Regulatory Flexibility Act The analytical requirements of the Regulatory Flexibility Act (5 U.S.C 601 et seq.) are not applicable because no general notice of proposed rulemaking was required for this action. Accordingly, no regulatory flexibility analysis is required, and none has been prepared. Authority: 5 U.S.C. 301; 19 U.S.C. 1202 note; 19 U.S.C. 1303 note; 19 U.S.C. 1671 et seq.; and 19 U.S.C. 3538. Dated: June 29, 2020. Jeffrey I. Kessler, Assistant Secretary for Enforcement and Compliance. [FR Doc. 2020–14404 Filed 7–9–20; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510–DS–P PO 00000 Frm 00044 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 DEPARTMENT OF LABOR Mine Safety and Health Administration 30 CFR Part 75 [Docket No. MSHA–2013–0032] RIN 1219–AB84 Refuge Alternatives for Underground Coal Mines Mine Safety and Health Administration, Labor. ACTION: Final action. AGENCY: The Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) is notifying the mining community and other interested parties of the Agency’s determination that the existing standards addressing the frequency of miners’ training on refuge alternatives for underground coal mines effectively protect miners’ safety and will remain in effect without change. This determination responds to a decision from the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. DATES: July 10, 2020. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Roslyn B. Fontaine, Deputy Director, Office of Standards, Regulations, and Variances, MSHA, 201 12th Street South, Arlington, VA 22202 (mail); Fontaine.Roslyn@dol.gov (email); 202– 693–9440 (voice); or 202–693–9441 (facsimile). These are not toll-free numbers. SUMMARY: SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: I. Background On December 31, 2008, MSHA published a final rule, Refuge Alternatives for Underground Coal Mines, establishing requirements for refuge alternatives in underground coal mines.1 See 73 FR 80656; see generally 30 CFR part 7, subpart L; id. part 75, subpart P. The final rule requires mine operators to provide training regarding the deployment and use of refuge alternatives, including three types of training—annual motor-task (hands-on), decision-making, and expectations training. 30 CFR 75.1504(c). Motor-task (hands-on) training consists of performing activities necessary to safely and effectively deploy and use a refuge alternative and its components. Decision-making training consists of learning when it is appropriate to use refuge alternatives rather than to 1 A refuge alternative is a protected, secure space with an isolated atmosphere and integrated components that create a life-sustaining environment for persons trapped in an underground coal mine. 30 CFR 7.502. E:\FR\FM\10JYR1.SGM 10JYR1 Federal Register / Vol. 85, No. 133 / Friday, July 10, 2020 / Rules and Regulations attempt escape from the mine. Expectations training consists of anticipating and experiencing the conditions that might be encountered during use of a refuge alternative (e.g., heat and humidity, confined space). On January 13, 2009, the United Mine Workers of America petitioned the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit (Court) to review MSHA’s refuge alternatives final rule. The Court issued its decision on October 26, 2010. See Int’l Union, United Mine Workers of America v. MSHA, 626 F.3d 84 (D.C. Cir. 2010). The Court held that MSHA was not bound by recommendations of the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), but that MSHA had failed to adequately explain its departure from NIOSH’s quarterly training recommendations. The Court found that MSHA’s ‘‘conclusory’’ reliance on its ‘‘knowledge and expertise’’ was unsupported by the rulemaking record. Id. at 93. Among other considerations, the Court described analysis from a NIOSH study that found that, after 90 days, miners’ ability to accomplish the six-step process for donning self-contained selfrescuers (SCSRs) severely deteriorated 2—deterioriation that NIOSH presumed would be similar for the referenced eighteen-step process needed to operate refuge alternatives. See id. at 87–88, 93. The Court remanded, but did not vacate, the final rule. It directed MSHA to explain the basis for the training frequency provision from the existing record or to reopen the record and allow additional public comment if needed. Id. at 86, 94. MSHA then reopened the record twice to obtain public comments on the appropriate frequency of motortask (hands-on), decision-making, and expectations training for miners to deploy and use refuge alternatives in underground coal mines. See 78 FR 48592 (Aug. 8, 2013); 78 FR 68783 (Nov. 15, 2013). jbell on DSKJLSW7X2PROD with RULES II. MSHA’s Current Standards Effectively Protect Miners MSHA received three comments after reopening the record. Two of those comments favored retaining the existing rule. The first commenter recognized that escape—not seeking refuge—is the first 2 An SCSR is an apparatus worn by individual miners in underground coal mines that can be used to provide at least one hour of breathable air to enable miners to escape from the mine or to reach a refuge alternative when the mining environment, due to smoke, inadequate oxygen and/or carbon monoxide, would not support human life. See 30 CFR 75.2 and 75.1714. VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:12 Jul 09, 2020 Jkt 250001 line of defense in an underground coal mine in an emergency. AB84–COMM–1. The commenter described the quarterly training miners currently receive in using SCSRs and additional quarterly training concerning storage locations for SCSRs, escapeways, and lifelines, as well as review of refuge alternative deployment and use. The commenter highlighted how training related to SCSRs in particular is likely the highestquality training miners receive during their careers, and asserted that studies reveal ‘‘the single-most important element of survival [in] a mining disaster [is] the ability to properly don the [SCSR] and exit the mine.’’ The commenter believed that resources for quarterly deployment of refuges and related motor-task (hands-on) training would be better utilized if miners were prepared for prompt, orderly, and efficient escape during a mine disaster through comprehensive SCSR, lifeline, and escapeway training. The commenter also described costs associated with quarterly motor-task (hands-on) training for deploying refuge alternatives. The commenter concluded ‘‘that the current refuge chamber alternative training requirements are adequate,’’ and MSHA agrees. A second commenter opposed changing the rule and agreed with MSHA that the final rule provided adequate miner training regarding when to use refuge alternatives. AB84– COMM–3. The commenter recognized that mine operators could supplement the mandated quarterly review of the procedures for deploying and using the refuge alternatives with limited motortask (hands-on) training using a panel mock-up of the valve and door arrangements of the refuge alternatives in use at the mine, as well as video training. The commenter stated that training using a mock-up of the doors and valves would provide both motortask (hands-on) and expectations training. MSHA agrees with the substance of these comments, which are consistent with MSHA’s resolution of this issue, and the Agency supports initiatives, as deemed appropriate by individual operators, to supplement existing quarterly refuge alternative deployment and use training as described by the commenter and as discussed below. The third commenter stated that annual deployment and use of a refuge alternative is inadequate and, based in part on NIOSH’s 2007 report,3 advocated quarterly motor-task (hands3 NIOSH, Office of Mine Safety & Health, Research Report on Refuge Alternatives for Underground Coal Mines, Dec. 2007. PO 00000 Frm 00045 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 41365 on) training. AB84–COMM–2. The commenter argued that the task of donning an SCSR, for which quarterly motor-task (hands-on) training is required, is not as difficult as deploying a refuge chamber. This commenter also stated that decision-making and expectations training should be provided quarterly in order to adequately train miners for emergency situations. MSHA disagrees with the commenter’s arguments and analysis, as explained below. After considering these comments, MSHA believes it should retain the final rule without revision. This approach is consistent with the training requirements in West Virginia, the only state that specifies training for refuge alternative deployment requirements. MSHA concludes that annual motortask (hands-on), decision-making, and expectations training, supplemented by existing mandated quarterly review of deployment and use procedures, as well as existing mandated quarterly evacuation training and quarterly evacuation drills with review of a mine’s evacuation plan, which include discussion of emergency scenarios and options for escape and refuge, will prepare miners to deploy and use refuge alternatives appropriately and effectively in an emergency. Motor-Task (Hands-On) Training MSHA’s determination regarding the appropriate frequency for motor-task (hands-on) training on refuge alternatives is supported by how miners are trained to use, and must use, SCSRs in emergencies; the overlap between the actions miners take in the normal course of mining and the actions necessary to deploy and use refuge alternatives; and how existing quarterly training already addresses the sequence of steps needed to deploy and use a refuge alternative. Miners are trained to use—and, in emergencies, historically have used— SCSRs, which will facilitate miners’ subsequent deployment of refuge alternatives when escape from the mine is not possible. When donning an SCSR, miners are faced with a perceived immediate threat to their lives. In a toxic environment, a single breath could kill a miner. A miner must don an SCSR immediately so he or she can continue breathing in the moments after ascertaining the need for the SCSR. Consequently, miners must be able to don the SCSR by instinct, relying on instant recall of the SCSR donning process, a process that requires performing actions not otherwise undertaken during the normal course of mining. Given the need to immediately don an SCSR in an environment in E:\FR\FM\10JYR1.SGM 10JYR1 jbell on DSKJLSW7X2PROD with RULES 41366 Federal Register / Vol. 85, No. 133 / Friday, July 10, 2020 / Rules and Regulations which miners often cannot see instructional material, as well as the impracticality of associating instructional materials with individual SCSRs, miners cannot benefit from manuals and other guidance while donning an SCSR. By contrast to the need to immediately don SCSRs without the benefit of written instruction, a miner deploying a refuge alternative will have the benefit of an SCSR and, therefore, significantly more time to deploy the refuge alternative. The 60-minute oxygen supply associated with an SCSR provides miners up to 30 minutes to travel to a refuge alternative and at least 30 additional minutes to deploy the refuge alternative.4 Thus, miners will have time to review instructions/ manuals located at (and inside) the refuge alternative and to be more deliberative in their recall of the skills and knowledge acquired during their training sessions. Once inside the isolated atmosphere after completing the initial actions necessary to deploy a refuge alternative, and where they are free from smoke and other contaminants that may be associated with the mine environment during an emergency, miners can refer to the available manual, quick-start guides, or signage, and they can work cooperatively (when there is more than one miner) and deliberately to complete deployment of the refuge alternative. The rulemaking record supports MSHA’s general understanding and approach. During a July 31, 2008, public hearing seeking comment regarding the proposed refuge alternative rule, a witness testified that, after clearing a refuge alternative’s airlock, miners could start the flow of oxygen within minutes and would be in a safe environment, allowing them ample time to reference available placards and manuals, if needed, and undertake subsequent steps necessary to maintain a breathable environment within the unit. MSHA Public Hearing, 7/31/08, pg. 91; See https://arlweb.msha.gov/ REGS/Comments/E8-13565/Transcripts/ 20080731CharlestonWV.pdf. Additionally—and unlike the actions needed to use an SCSR—the actions that must be performed to deploy and use a refuge alternative are similar to many actions in which miners regularly engage during the course of normal mining operations. For example, the operation of valves on oxygen and acetylene compressed gas cylinders 4 The final rule provides that miners never will be more than a 30-minute travel distance from either a refuge alternative or a safe exit from the mine. 30 CFR 75.1506(c). VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:12 Jul 09, 2020 Jkt 250001 used when conducting maintenance activities, such as cutting and welding, is similar to the operation of valves associated with refuge alternatives. In addition, many miners carry, and routinely use, gas monitors like those used in the deployment and use of a refuge alternative to measure gaseous concentration levels during their shifts. Further, the design and use of access doors and latches located on refuge alternatives are similar to existing airlock doors and personnel doors that are located at various points of the mine where miners often travel and work. In part because of this overlap, MSHA has determined annual motor-task (handson) training on refuge alternatives is adequate. In addition to having the benefit of SCSRs, as well as signage, brief written instructions (e.g., quick start guides), and manuals, and familiarity with basic actions developed through their work experiences, miners also already receive quarterly training on the procedures to deploy and use refuge alternatives. 30 CFR 75.1504(b)(6) and (8). Because miners have familiarity with many of the underlying physical actions needed to deploy and use a refuge alternative effectively, MSHA has concluded that it is more important for miners to know the order in which those actions need to be performed—a sequence that is addressed during the quarterly training. When deploying a refuge alternative, miners must perform the following steps: 5 (1) Open/inflate the unit; (2) enter the airlock and purge contaminants; (3) enter the livable space and turn on oxygen; (4) deploy carbon dioxide scrubbing material; (5) begin to monitor air quality. After performing the first three steps, the miners are in the habitable space and have ample time to safely perform the remaining actions. MSHA agrees with a commenter that the mandated quarterly review of deployment procedures, including these initial steps, effectively reinforces the annual training that miners receive (see 30 CFR 75.1504(b)(6); AB58–COMM–21, pgs. 3– 4). MSHA’s confidence that miners 5 While the Court referenced an 18-step process for deploying an using a refuge alternative, Int’l Union, United Mine Workers of America v. MSHA, 626 F.3d at 87–88, 93, the referenced process includes discrete, minor actions that more appropriately are included within the five steps listed above. Indeed, NIOSH similarly has recommended development of four-step Quick Start Guides for the deployment and use of refuge alternatives [Guidelines for Instructional Materials on Refuge Chamber Setup, Use, and Maintenance, IC 9514, NIOSH 2009, page 7]. PO 00000 Frm 00046 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 effectively will learn and remember the necessary steps, and the order in which they are performed, through annual motor-task (hands-on) training and quarterly review is supported by the facts that the steps are relatively few in number and the order in which they are performed is consistent with the manner in which one naturally would seek refuge from a dangerous environment into a secured, breathable environment—i.e., prepare the unit for use; leave the dangerous mine environment for the enclosed airlock; purge hazardous gasses that may have entered the airlock during entry; enter the unit’s livable space and start the flow of oxygen; activate the carbon dioxide scrubbing material; and monitor to assure the appropriate oxygen and carbon dioxide concentrations during habitation. Therefore, motor-task (hands-on) retraining on the deployment and use of refuge alternatives does not need to be as frequent as motor-task (hands-on) training for the donning of an SCSR, particularly in light of the related, quarterly refuge alternative deployment and use training mandated in 30 CFR 75.1504(b)(6) and (8). MSHA notes that its conclusion regarding the appropriate frequencies for training miners parallels the frequencies at which miners must be trained under West Virginia state law. In response to mine accidents in 2006, the State of West Virginia also supplemented its provisions for protecting miners in an emergency, including provisions related to SCSRs and emergency shelters/chambers. Recognizing the critical importance of donning an SCSR immediately and effectively in an emergency (Mine Safety Technology Task Force Report— May 29, 2006 at https:// minesafety.wv.gov/PDFs/ MSTTF%20Report%20Final.pdf),6 the West Virginia legislature mandates that miners receive quarterly SCSR training. See, WV Code section 22A–2–55(f)(1); W. Va. Code St. R, section 56–4–5.3. Conversely, pursuant to State law, miners receive training in the proper 6 MSHA notes that the West Virginia Task Force, which included two representatives from the United Mine Workers of America, as well as industry representatives, addressed training regarding the use of SCSRs extensively in their report, while providing more limited discussion of training to be associated with emergency shelters/ chambers. See Mine Safety Technology Task Force Report at 36, 38–38, 42, 52–3, 59, 107–09. The Task Force ultimately recommended that mine operators provide a shelter/chamber plan that, among other things, ‘‘ensure[s] that emergency shelters/chambers are included in initial mine hazard training in such a manner that it is in compliance with all manufacturer’s requirements and is provided yearly in addition to annual refresher training.’’ Id. at 17, 59. E:\FR\FM\10JYR1.SGM 10JYR1 Federal Register / Vol. 85, No. 133 / Friday, July 10, 2020 / Rules and Regulations jbell on DSKJLSW7X2PROD with RULES use of emergency shelters/chambers on an annual basis. See W. Va. Code St. R, section 56–4–8.14.2. When deploying refuge alternatives, miners have the benefit of SCSRs and written instruction, familiarity with basic actions needed to deploy and use refuge alternatives, and, in addition to annual motor-task (hands-on training), quarterly training on the sequence of steps and procedures for deployment and use. In light of these considerations, and consistent with training requirements contained in West Virginia law, MSHA believes annual motor-task (hands-on) training on the use of refuge alternatives effectively protects miner safety. Decision-Making and Expectations Training, Collectively MSHA’s divergence from NIOSH’s quarterly decision-making and expectations training recommendation reflects the absence of NIOSH-cited research and the limited analysis regarding the appropriate frequency for providing such training. While favorably referencing research and analysis underlying NIOSH’s recommendation that motor-task (hands-on) training be performed on a quarterly basis, the Court’s holding reflects that, while NIOSH recommended that decision-making and expectations training be included in conjunction with hands-on quarterly training, NIOSH had not performed any specific research regarding the appropriate frequency for providing decision-making and expectations training. See Int’l Union, United Mine Workers of America v. MSHA, 626 F.3d at 87–88, 93 (referencing NIOSH and UMWA-identified studies regarding recollection following motor-task (hands-on) training, while merely mentioning NIOSH’s more cursory recommendation that decision-making training and expectations training be given at the same time as the motor-task (hands-on) training). MSHA agrees with NIOSH that decision-making and expectations training practically could be performed in conjunction with motor-task (hands-on) training. See NIOSH’s Research Report On Refuge Alternatives For Underground Coal Mines at 15. However, NIOSH’s recommendation appears to be based on utilizing an opportunity to provide these trainings in tandem, rather than on identified research and/or substantive analysis evidencing a verified improvement in safety outcomes associated with quarterly decision-making and expectations training. See, e.g., Issues Regarding Refuge Chamber Training, referenced on VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:12 Jul 09, 2020 Jkt 250001 Page 3 of NIOSH’s Research Report On Refuge Alternatives For Underground Coal Mines (‘‘The optimum intervals for retraining on a refuge chamber are not known.’’). MSHA finds the fact that decision-making training and expectations training could be conducted in conjunction with motortask (hands-on) training to be an insufficient basis to justify the provision of such training at intervals more frequently than was demonstrated in the NIOSH report and research to be needed for miner safety. Decision-Making Training MSHA has determined that the decision-making training currently required on an annual basis is effective in protecting miner safety and is enhanced by other safety measures that inform miners’ decision-making during emergencies. MSHA requires annual training to include instruction on the deployment and use of refuge alternatives, including their component systems, and on decision-making training. See 30 CFR 75.1504(c)(3)(ii) (requiring ‘‘[i]nstruction on when to use refuge alternatives during a mine emergency, emphasizing that it is the last resort when escape is impossible’’ (emphasis added)). The existing rule also requires quarterly evacuation training and quarterly evacuation drills, as well as review of a mine’s evacuation plan, which include discussion of emergency scenarios and options for escape and refuge. See 30 CFR 75.1502(c)(4) and 75.1504(a) and (b)(3)–(4). The quarterly evacuation training and quarterly evacuation drills complement the annual decision-making training because they require consideration of the best options for miners in various mine emergency scenarios, including the option to seek shelter in a refuge alternative and the application of survival strategies, which would address the relative merits of escape and shelter options in specific emergency situations, during realistic escapeway drills. See 30 CFR 75.1502(c)(4)(vi) and 75.1504(b)(3). Decision-making training materials developed by NIOSH help miners better understand the factors relevant to a determination regarding the ability to escape versus the need to take refuge. These and similar materials can and should be used during the quarterly training sessions and quarterly drills. See NIOSH materials at http:// www.cdc.gov/niosh/mining/content/ refugechambers.html#The RefugeChamberTrainingModules. In addition to this training, other factors enhance miners’ decisionmaking. Real-time information PO 00000 Frm 00047 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 41367 concerning the specific nature of an emergency and actual post- accident conditions in the mine—in conjunction with miners’ knowledge of the mine’s layout and features from their daily work and travel in the mine—is critical to making sound determinations about when to escape and when to seek refuge. The Mine Improvement and New Emergency Response Act of 2006 (MINER Act) sought to provide miners with this situation-specific information. Since publication of the refuge alternatives final rule, emergency communication and electronic tracking systems mandated by the MINER Act have been installed in all underground coal mines. See 30 U.S.C. 876(b)(2)(F)(ii). These systems allow surface personnel to determine each miner’s underground location and to convey real-time information to miners about the nature of the emergency and the mine conditions that they may encounter along various available escape routes. While these systems were not installed when the refuge alternatives final rule was promulgated, and thus not explicitly considered when establishing the rule’s training intervals, MSHA recognizes that the present availability of these tracking and communication systems provides situation-specific, real-time information on conditions in an underground mine. In turn, better information and communication help miners make the right decisions in an emergency, such that the annual training, the quarterly drills, and the real-time information will allow miners effectively to choose whether to attempt escape or to seek shelter in specific situations that might be encountered during an emergency. Given these systems and existing quarterly and annual training, MSHA believes additional decision-making training is unnecessary and that the final rule effectively protects miners’ safety. Expectations Training Expectations training involves the actual, annual deployment and use of a refuge alternative (see 30 CFR 75.1504(c)(3)) and simulates the experience of being enclosed with other miners in a refuge alternative with supplied air, limited space, and limited light. Given the unique and visceral nature of such an experience, MSHA has no reason to believe that quarterly training is necessary for miners to remember the experience of occupying a refuge alternative. Moreover, expectations training is intended to provide miners a basic understanding of the general sensation associated with occupancy in a refuge E:\FR\FM\10JYR1.SGM 10JYR1 41368 Federal Register / Vol. 85, No. 133 / Friday, July 10, 2020 / Rules and Regulations alternative, so as to minimize some of the stress and/or disorientation that otherwise may accompany occupancy in an emergency situation. The training goal is accomplished when miners experience and appreciate the physiological and psychological sensations that can be expected when occupying a refuge alternative, and is not dependent on miners mastering and remembering detailed or sequential information. Importantly, this type of training is materially distinct in nature from the type of training associated with SCSR use (which involves mastery of, and immediate, highly-accurate performance of, multi-step actions) that NIOSH referenced when generally suggesting quarterly training for all aspects of refuge alternative deployment and use. Given the experiential nature of expectations training, as well as the unique and visceral nature of the experience, MSHA has determined that annual expectations training provides an experience sufficient to enable miners to apply their knowledge, other training, and available written instruction to effectively use the refuge alternative in an emergency. III. Conclusion For the reasons stated above, MSHA concludes that annual motor-task (hands-on), decision-making, and expectations training—supplemented by existing mandated quarterly reviews, instructions, and drills—effectively will prepare miners to deploy and use a refuge during an emergency. Accordingly, the existing rule Refuge Alternatives for Underground Coal Mines remains in effect without change. Authority: 30 U.S.C. 811. David G. Zatezalo, Assistant Secretary of Labor for Mine Safety and Health. [FR Doc. 2020–13753 Filed 7–9–20; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4520–43–P DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY Coast Guard 33 CFR Part 100 [Docket Number USCG–2020–0143] jbell on DSKJLSW7X2PROD with RULES RIN 1625–AA08 Special Local Regulation; Upper Potomac River, National Harbor, MD Coast Guard, DHS. Temporary final rule. AGENCY: ACTION: The Coast Guard is establishing temporary special local SUMMARY: VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:12 Jul 09, 2020 Jkt 250001 regulations for certain waters of the Upper Potomac River. This action is necessary to provide for the safety of life on these navigable waters located at National Harbor, MD, on September 27, 2020, during an open water swim event. This regulation prohibits persons and vessels from being in the regulated area unless authorized by the Captain of the Port Maryland-National Capital Region or the Coast Guard Patrol Commander. DATES: This rule is effective from 7 a.m. to 11 a.m. on September 27, 2020. ADDRESSES: To view documents mentioned in this preamble as being available in the docket, go to https:// www.regulations.gov, type USCG–2020– 0143 in the ‘‘SEARCH’’ box and click ‘‘SEARCH.’’ Click on Open Docket Folder on the line associated with this rule. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: If you have questions on this rule, call or email Mr. Ron Houck, U.S. Coast Guard Sector Maryland-National Capital Region; telephone 410–576–2674, email Ronald.L.Houck@uscg.mil. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: I. Table of Abbreviations CFR Code of Federal Regulations COTP Captain of the Port DHS Department of Homeland Security FR Federal Register NPRM Notice of proposed rulemaking PATCOM Coast Guard Patrol Commander SNPRM Supplemental notice of proposed rulemaking § Section U.S.C. United States Code II. Background Information and Regulatory History The Coast Guard published a notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) on April 1, 2020 (85 FR 18157), proposing to establish a special local regulation for the ‘‘Washington, DC Sharkfest Swim,’’ on the Upper Potomac River. The Coast Guard published a supplemental notice of proposed rulemaking (SNPRM) on May 22, 2020 (85 FR 31099), to amend the date of the proposed special local regulation from June 7, 2020, to September 27, 2020, and reopened the comment period to account for the change. The comment period for the SNPRM closed June 22, 2020. The Coast Guard received no comments on either the NPRM or SNPRM. III. Legal Authority and Need for Rule The Coast Guard is issuing this rule under authority in 46 U.S.C. 70041. The Captain of the Port Maryland-National Capital Region (COTP) has determined that potential hazards associated with this swim event will be a safety concern for anyone intending to operate in or PO 00000 Frm 00048 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 near the swim area. The purpose of this rule is to protect event participants, non-participants, and transiting vessels on certain waters of the Upper Potomac River before, during, and after the scheduled event. IV. Discussion of Comments, Changes, and the Rule As noted above, we received no comments on our NPRM published April 1, 2020, and our SNPRM published May 22, 2020. There are no changes in the regulatory text of this rule from the proposed rule in the SNPRM. This rule establishes a special local regulation to be enforced from 7 a.m. to 11 a.m. on September 27, 2020. The regulated area will cover all navigable waters of the Upper Potomac River, within an area bounded by a line connecting the following points: From the Rosilie Island shoreline at latitude 38°47′30.30″ N, longitude 077°01′26.70″ W, thence west to latitude 38°47′30.00″ N, longitude 077°01′37.30″ W, thence south to latitude 38°47′08.20″ N, longitude 077°01′37.30″ W, thence east to latitude 38°47′09.00″ N, longitude 077°01′09.20″ W, thence southeast along the pier to latitude 38°47′06.30″ N, longitude 077°01′02.50″ W, thence north along the shoreline and west along the southern extent of the Woodrow Wilson (I–95/I–495) Memorial Bridge and south and west along the shoreline to the point of origin, located at National Harbor, MD. The regulated area is approximately 1,210 yards in length and 740 yards in width. The duration of the special local regulations and size of the regulated area are intended to ensure the safety of life on these navigable waters before, during, and after this swim event, scheduled from 7:30 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. on September 27, 2020. The COTP and the Coast Guard Patrol Commander (PATCOM) have authority to forbid and control the movement of all vessels and persons, including event participants, in the regulated area. Except for Washington, DC Sharkfest Swim event participants and vessels already at berth, a vessel or person will be required to get permission from the COTP or PATCOM before entering the regulated area. Vessel operators can request permission to enter and transit through the regulated area by contacting the PATCOM on VHF–FM channel 16. Vessel traffic will be able to safely transit the regulated area once the PATCOM deems it safe to do so. A person or vessel not registered with the event sponsor as a participant or assigned as official patrols will be considered a non-participant. Official E:\FR\FM\10JYR1.SGM 10JYR1

Agencies

[Federal Register Volume 85, Number 133 (Friday, July 10, 2020)]
[Rules and Regulations]
[Pages 41364-41368]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2020-13753]


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DEPARTMENT OF LABOR

Mine Safety and Health Administration

30 CFR Part 75

[Docket No. MSHA-2013-0032]
RIN 1219-AB84


Refuge Alternatives for Underground Coal Mines

AGENCY: Mine Safety and Health Administration, Labor.

ACTION: Final action.

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SUMMARY: The Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) is notifying 
the mining community and other interested parties of the Agency's 
determination that the existing standards addressing the frequency of 
miners' training on refuge alternatives for underground coal mines 
effectively protect miners' safety and will remain in effect without 
change. This determination responds to a decision from the United 
States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.

DATES: July 10, 2020.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Roslyn B. Fontaine, Deputy Director, 
Office of Standards, Regulations, and Variances, MSHA, 201 12th Street 
South, Arlington, VA 22202 (mail); [email protected] (email); 
202-693-9440 (voice); or 202-693-9441 (facsimile). These are not toll-
free numbers.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

I. Background

    On December 31, 2008, MSHA published a final rule, Refuge 
Alternatives for Underground Coal Mines, establishing requirements for 
refuge alternatives in underground coal mines.\1\ See 73 FR 80656; see 
generally 30 CFR part 7, subpart L; id. part 75, subpart P. The final 
rule requires mine operators to provide training regarding the 
deployment and use of refuge alternatives, including three types of 
training--annual motor-task (hands-on), decision-making, and 
expectations training. 30 CFR 75.1504(c). Motor-task (hands-on) 
training consists of performing activities necessary to safely and 
effectively deploy and use a refuge alternative and its components. 
Decision-making training consists of learning when it is appropriate to 
use refuge alternatives rather than to

[[Page 41365]]

attempt escape from the mine. Expectations training consists of 
anticipating and experiencing the conditions that might be encountered 
during use of a refuge alternative (e.g., heat and humidity, confined 
space).
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    \1\ A refuge alternative is a protected, secure space with an 
isolated atmosphere and integrated components that create a life-
sustaining environment for persons trapped in an underground coal 
mine. 30 CFR 7.502.
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    On January 13, 2009, the United Mine Workers of America petitioned 
the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit 
(Court) to review MSHA's refuge alternatives final rule. The Court 
issued its decision on October 26, 2010. See Int'l Union, United Mine 
Workers of America v. MSHA, 626 F.3d 84 (D.C. Cir. 2010). The Court 
held that MSHA was not bound by recommendations of the National 
Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), but that MSHA had 
failed to adequately explain its departure from NIOSH's quarterly 
training recommendations. The Court found that MSHA's ``conclusory'' 
reliance on its ``knowledge and expertise'' was unsupported by the 
rulemaking record. Id. at 93. Among other considerations, the Court 
described analysis from a NIOSH study that found that, after 90 days, 
miners' ability to accomplish the six-step process for donning self-
contained self-rescuers (SCSRs) severely deteriorated \2\--
deterioriation that NIOSH presumed would be similar for the referenced 
eighteen-step process needed to operate refuge alternatives. See id. at 
87-88, 93.
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    \2\ An SCSR is an apparatus worn by individual miners in 
underground coal mines that can be used to provide at least one hour 
of breathable air to enable miners to escape from the mine or to 
reach a refuge alternative when the mining environment, due to 
smoke, inadequate oxygen and/or carbon monoxide, would not support 
human life. See 30 CFR 75.2 and 75.1714.
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    The Court remanded, but did not vacate, the final rule. It directed 
MSHA to explain the basis for the training frequency provision from the 
existing record or to reopen the record and allow additional public 
comment if needed. Id. at 86, 94. MSHA then reopened the record twice 
to obtain public comments on the appropriate frequency of motor-task 
(hands-on), decision-making, and expectations training for miners to 
deploy and use refuge alternatives in underground coal mines. See 78 FR 
48592 (Aug. 8, 2013); 78 FR 68783 (Nov. 15, 2013).

II. MSHA's Current Standards Effectively Protect Miners

    MSHA received three comments after reopening the record. Two of 
those comments favored retaining the existing rule.
    The first commenter recognized that escape--not seeking refuge--is 
the first line of defense in an underground coal mine in an emergency. 
AB84-COMM-1. The commenter described the quarterly training miners 
currently receive in using SCSRs and additional quarterly training 
concerning storage locations for SCSRs, escapeways, and lifelines, as 
well as review of refuge alternative deployment and use. The commenter 
highlighted how training related to SCSRs in particular is likely the 
highest-quality training miners receive during their careers, and 
asserted that studies reveal ``the single-most important element of 
survival [in] a mining disaster [is] the ability to properly don the 
[SCSR] and exit the mine.'' The commenter believed that resources for 
quarterly deployment of refuges and related motor-task (hands-on) 
training would be better utilized if miners were prepared for prompt, 
orderly, and efficient escape during a mine disaster through 
comprehensive SCSR, lifeline, and escapeway training. The commenter 
also described costs associated with quarterly motor-task (hands-on) 
training for deploying refuge alternatives. The commenter concluded 
``that the current refuge chamber alternative training requirements are 
adequate,'' and MSHA agrees.
    A second commenter opposed changing the rule and agreed with MSHA 
that the final rule provided adequate miner training regarding when to 
use refuge alternatives. AB84-COMM-3. The commenter recognized that 
mine operators could supplement the mandated quarterly review of the 
procedures for deploying and using the refuge alternatives with limited 
motor-task (hands-on) training using a panel mock-up of the valve and 
door arrangements of the refuge alternatives in use at the mine, as 
well as video training. The commenter stated that training using a 
mock-up of the doors and valves would provide both motor-task (hands-
on) and expectations training. MSHA agrees with the substance of these 
comments, which are consistent with MSHA's resolution of this issue, 
and the Agency supports initiatives, as deemed appropriate by 
individual operators, to supplement existing quarterly refuge 
alternative deployment and use training as described by the commenter 
and as discussed below.
    The third commenter stated that annual deployment and use of a 
refuge alternative is inadequate and, based in part on NIOSH's 2007 
report,\3\ advocated quarterly motor-task (hands-on) training. AB84-
COMM-2. The commenter argued that the task of donning an SCSR, for 
which quarterly motor-task (hands-on) training is required, is not as 
difficult as deploying a refuge chamber. This commenter also stated 
that decision-making and expectations training should be provided 
quarterly in order to adequately train miners for emergency situations. 
MSHA disagrees with the commenter's arguments and analysis, as 
explained below.
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    \3\ NIOSH, Office of Mine Safety & Health, Research Report on 
Refuge Alternatives for Underground Coal Mines, Dec. 2007.
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    After considering these comments, MSHA believes it should retain 
the final rule without revision. This approach is consistent with the 
training requirements in West Virginia, the only state that specifies 
training for refuge alternative deployment requirements. MSHA concludes 
that annual motor-task (hands-on), decision-making, and expectations 
training, supplemented by existing mandated quarterly review of 
deployment and use procedures, as well as existing mandated quarterly 
evacuation training and quarterly evacuation drills with review of a 
mine's evacuation plan, which include discussion of emergency scenarios 
and options for escape and refuge, will prepare miners to deploy and 
use refuge alternatives appropriately and effectively in an emergency.

Motor-Task (Hands-On) Training

    MSHA's determination regarding the appropriate frequency for motor-
task (hands-on) training on refuge alternatives is supported by how 
miners are trained to use, and must use, SCSRs in emergencies; the 
overlap between the actions miners take in the normal course of mining 
and the actions necessary to deploy and use refuge alternatives; and 
how existing quarterly training already addresses the sequence of steps 
needed to deploy and use a refuge alternative.
    Miners are trained to use--and, in emergencies, historically have 
used--SCSRs, which will facilitate miners' subsequent deployment of 
refuge alternatives when escape from the mine is not possible. When 
donning an SCSR, miners are faced with a perceived immediate threat to 
their lives. In a toxic environment, a single breath could kill a 
miner. A miner must don an SCSR immediately so he or she can continue 
breathing in the moments after ascertaining the need for the SCSR. 
Consequently, miners must be able to don the SCSR by instinct, relying 
on instant recall of the SCSR donning process, a process that requires 
performing actions not otherwise undertaken during the normal course of 
mining. Given the need to immediately don an SCSR in an environment in

[[Page 41366]]

which miners often cannot see instructional material, as well as the 
impracticality of associating instructional materials with individual 
SCSRs, miners cannot benefit from manuals and other guidance while 
donning an SCSR.
    By contrast to the need to immediately don SCSRs without the 
benefit of written instruction, a miner deploying a refuge alternative 
will have the benefit of an SCSR and, therefore, significantly more 
time to deploy the refuge alternative. The 60-minute oxygen supply 
associated with an SCSR provides miners up to 30 minutes to travel to a 
refuge alternative and at least 30 additional minutes to deploy the 
refuge alternative.\4\ Thus, miners will have time to review 
instructions/manuals located at (and inside) the refuge alternative and 
to be more deliberative in their recall of the skills and knowledge 
acquired during their training sessions. Once inside the isolated 
atmosphere after completing the initial actions necessary to deploy a 
refuge alternative, and where they are free from smoke and other 
contaminants that may be associated with the mine environment during an 
emergency, miners can refer to the available manual, quick-start 
guides, or signage, and they can work cooperatively (when there is more 
than one miner) and deliberately to complete deployment of the refuge 
alternative.
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    \4\ The final rule provides that miners never will be more than 
a 30-minute travel distance from either a refuge alternative or a 
safe exit from the mine. 30 CFR 75.1506(c).
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    The rulemaking record supports MSHA's general understanding and 
approach. During a July 31, 2008, public hearing seeking comment 
regarding the proposed refuge alternative rule, a witness testified 
that, after clearing a refuge alternative's airlock, miners could start 
the flow of oxygen within minutes and would be in a safe environment, 
allowing them ample time to reference available placards and manuals, 
if needed, and undertake subsequent steps necessary to maintain a 
breathable environment within the unit. MSHA Public Hearing, 7/31/08, 
pg. 91; See https://arlweb.msha.gov/REGS/Comments/E8-13565/Transcripts/20080731CharlestonWV.pdf.
    Additionally--and unlike the actions needed to use an SCSR--the 
actions that must be performed to deploy and use a refuge alternative 
are similar to many actions in which miners regularly engage during the 
course of normal mining operations. For example, the operation of 
valves on oxygen and acetylene compressed gas cylinders used when 
conducting maintenance activities, such as cutting and welding, is 
similar to the operation of valves associated with refuge alternatives. 
In addition, many miners carry, and routinely use, gas monitors like 
those used in the deployment and use of a refuge alternative to measure 
gaseous concentration levels during their shifts. Further, the design 
and use of access doors and latches located on refuge alternatives are 
similar to existing airlock doors and personnel doors that are located 
at various points of the mine where miners often travel and work. In 
part because of this overlap, MSHA has determined annual motor-task 
(hands-on) training on refuge alternatives is adequate.
    In addition to having the benefit of SCSRs, as well as signage, 
brief written instructions (e.g., quick start guides), and manuals, and 
familiarity with basic actions developed through their work 
experiences, miners also already receive quarterly training on the 
procedures to deploy and use refuge alternatives. 30 CFR 75.1504(b)(6) 
and (8). Because miners have familiarity with many of the underlying 
physical actions needed to deploy and use a refuge alternative 
effectively, MSHA has concluded that it is more important for miners to 
know the order in which those actions need to be performed--a sequence 
that is addressed during the quarterly training.
    When deploying a refuge alternative, miners must perform the 
following steps: \5\
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    \5\ While the Court referenced an 18-step process for deploying 
an using a refuge alternative, Int'l Union, United Mine Workers of 
America v. MSHA, 626 F.3d at 87-88, 93, the referenced process 
includes discrete, minor actions that more appropriately are 
included within the five steps listed above. Indeed, NIOSH similarly 
has recommended development of four-step Quick Start Guides for the 
deployment and use of refuge alternatives [Guidelines for 
Instructional Materials on Refuge Chamber Setup, Use, and 
Maintenance, IC 9514, NIOSH 2009, page 7].
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    (1) Open/inflate the unit;
    (2) enter the airlock and purge contaminants;
    (3) enter the livable space and turn on oxygen;
    (4) deploy carbon dioxide scrubbing material;
    (5) begin to monitor air quality.
    After performing the first three steps, the miners are in the 
habitable space and have ample time to safely perform the remaining 
actions. MSHA agrees with a commenter that the mandated quarterly 
review of deployment procedures, including these initial steps, 
effectively reinforces the annual training that miners receive (see 30 
CFR 75.1504(b)(6); AB58-COMM-21, pgs. 3-4). MSHA's confidence that 
miners effectively will learn and remember the necessary steps, and the 
order in which they are performed, through annual motor-task (hands-on) 
training and quarterly review is supported by the facts that the steps 
are relatively few in number and the order in which they are performed 
is consistent with the manner in which one naturally would seek refuge 
from a dangerous environment into a secured, breathable environment--
i.e., prepare the unit for use; leave the dangerous mine environment 
for the enclosed airlock; purge hazardous gasses that may have entered 
the airlock during entry; enter the unit's livable space and start the 
flow of oxygen; activate the carbon dioxide scrubbing material; and 
monitor to assure the appropriate oxygen and carbon dioxide 
concentrations during habitation. Therefore, motor-task (hands-on) 
retraining on the deployment and use of refuge alternatives does not 
need to be as frequent as motor-task (hands-on) training for the 
donning of an SCSR, particularly in light of the related, quarterly 
refuge alternative deployment and use training mandated in 30 CFR 
75.1504(b)(6) and (8).
    MSHA notes that its conclusion regarding the appropriate 
frequencies for training miners parallels the frequencies at which 
miners must be trained under West Virginia state law. In response to 
mine accidents in 2006, the State of West Virginia also supplemented 
its provisions for protecting miners in an emergency, including 
provisions related to SCSRs and emergency shelters/chambers. 
Recognizing the critical importance of donning an SCSR immediately and 
effectively in an emergency (Mine Safety Technology Task Force Report--
May 29, 2006 at https://minesafety.wv.gov/PDFs/MSTTF%20Report%20Final.pdf),\6\ the West Virginia legislature mandates 
that miners receive quarterly SCSR training. See, WV Code section 22A-
2-55(f)(1); W. Va. Code St. R, section 56-4-5.3. Conversely, pursuant 
to State law, miners receive training in the proper

[[Page 41367]]

use of emergency shelters/chambers on an annual basis. See W. Va. Code 
St. R, section 56-4-8.14.2.
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    \6\ MSHA notes that the West Virginia Task Force, which included 
two representatives from the United Mine Workers of America, as well 
as industry representatives, addressed training regarding the use of 
SCSRs extensively in their report, while providing more limited 
discussion of training to be associated with emergency shelters/
chambers. See Mine Safety Technology Task Force Report at 36, 38-38, 
42, 52-3, 59, 107-09. The Task Force ultimately recommended that 
mine operators provide a shelter/chamber plan that, among other 
things, ``ensure[s] that emergency shelters/chambers are included in 
initial mine hazard training in such a manner that it is in 
compliance with all manufacturer's requirements and is provided 
yearly in addition to annual refresher training.'' Id. at 17, 59.
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    When deploying refuge alternatives, miners have the benefit of 
SCSRs and written instruction, familiarity with basic actions needed to 
deploy and use refuge alternatives, and, in addition to annual motor-
task (hands-on training), quarterly training on the sequence of steps 
and procedures for deployment and use. In light of these 
considerations, and consistent with training requirements contained in 
West Virginia law, MSHA believes annual motor-task (hands-on) training 
on the use of refuge alternatives effectively protects miner safety.

Decision-Making and Expectations Training, Collectively

    MSHA's divergence from NIOSH's quarterly decision-making and 
expectations training recommendation reflects the absence of NIOSH-
cited research and the limited analysis regarding the appropriate 
frequency for providing such training. While favorably referencing 
research and analysis underlying NIOSH's recommendation that motor-task 
(hands-on) training be performed on a quarterly basis, the Court's 
holding reflects that, while NIOSH recommended that decision-making and 
expectations training be included in conjunction with hands-on 
quarterly training, NIOSH had not performed any specific research 
regarding the appropriate frequency for providing decision-making and 
expectations training. See Int'l Union, United Mine Workers of America 
v. MSHA, 626 F.3d at 87-88, 93 (referencing NIOSH and UMWA-identified 
studies regarding recollection following motor-task (hands-on) 
training, while merely mentioning NIOSH's more cursory recommendation 
that decision-making training and expectations training be given at the 
same time as the motor-task (hands-on) training). MSHA agrees with 
NIOSH that decision-making and expectations training practically could 
be performed in conjunction with motor-task (hands-on) training. See 
NIOSH's Research Report On Refuge Alternatives For Underground Coal 
Mines at 15. However, NIOSH's recommendation appears to be based on 
utilizing an opportunity to provide these trainings in tandem, rather 
than on identified research and/or substantive analysis evidencing a 
verified improvement in safety outcomes associated with quarterly 
decision-making and expectations training. See, e.g., Issues Regarding 
Refuge Chamber Training, referenced on Page 3 of NIOSH's Research 
Report On Refuge Alternatives For Underground Coal Mines (``The optimum 
intervals for retraining on a refuge chamber are not known.''). MSHA 
finds the fact that decision-making training and expectations training 
could be conducted in conjunction with motor-task (hands-on) training 
to be an insufficient basis to justify the provision of such training 
at intervals more frequently than was demonstrated in the NIOSH report 
and research to be needed for miner safety.

Decision-Making Training

    MSHA has determined that the decision-making training currently 
required on an annual basis is effective in protecting miner safety and 
is enhanced by other safety measures that inform miners' decision-
making during emergencies.
    MSHA requires annual training to include instruction on the 
deployment and use of refuge alternatives, including their component 
systems, and on decision-making training. See 30 CFR 75.1504(c)(3)(ii) 
(requiring ``[i]nstruction on when to use refuge alternatives during a 
mine emergency, emphasizing that it is the last resort when escape is 
impossible'' (emphasis added)). The existing rule also requires 
quarterly evacuation training and quarterly evacuation drills, as well 
as review of a mine's evacuation plan, which include discussion of 
emergency scenarios and options for escape and refuge. See 30 CFR 
75.1502(c)(4) and 75.1504(a) and (b)(3)-(4). The quarterly evacuation 
training and quarterly evacuation drills complement the annual 
decision-making training because they require consideration of the best 
options for miners in various mine emergency scenarios, including the 
option to seek shelter in a refuge alternative and the application of 
survival strategies, which would address the relative merits of escape 
and shelter options in specific emergency situations, during realistic 
escapeway drills. See 30 CFR 75.1502(c)(4)(vi) and 75.1504(b)(3). 
Decision-making training materials developed by NIOSH help miners 
better understand the factors relevant to a determination regarding the 
ability to escape versus the need to take refuge. These and similar 
materials can and should be used during the quarterly training sessions 
and quarterly drills. See NIOSH materials at http://www.cdc.gov/niosh/mining/content/refugechambers.html#TheRefugeChamberTrainingModules.
    In addition to this training, other factors enhance miners' 
decision-making. Real-time information concerning the specific nature 
of an emergency and actual post- accident conditions in the mine--in 
conjunction with miners' knowledge of the mine's layout and features 
from their daily work and travel in the mine--is critical to making 
sound determinations about when to escape and when to seek refuge. The 
Mine Improvement and New Emergency Response Act of 2006 (MINER Act) 
sought to provide miners with this situation-specific information. 
Since publication of the refuge alternatives final rule, emergency 
communication and electronic tracking systems mandated by the MINER Act 
have been installed in all underground coal mines. See 30 U.S.C. 
876(b)(2)(F)(ii). These systems allow surface personnel to determine 
each miner's underground location and to convey real-time information 
to miners about the nature of the emergency and the mine conditions 
that they may encounter along various available escape routes. While 
these systems were not installed when the refuge alternatives final 
rule was promulgated, and thus not explicitly considered when 
establishing the rule's training intervals, MSHA recognizes that the 
present availability of these tracking and communication systems 
provides situation-specific, real-time information on conditions in an 
underground mine. In turn, better information and communication help 
miners make the right decisions in an emergency, such that the annual 
training, the quarterly drills, and the real-time information will 
allow miners effectively to choose whether to attempt escape or to seek 
shelter in specific situations that might be encountered during an 
emergency. Given these systems and existing quarterly and annual 
training, MSHA believes additional decision-making training is 
unnecessary and that the final rule effectively protects miners' 
safety.

Expectations Training

    Expectations training involves the actual, annual deployment and 
use of a refuge alternative (see 30 CFR 75.1504(c)(3)) and simulates 
the experience of being enclosed with other miners in a refuge 
alternative with supplied air, limited space, and limited light. Given 
the unique and visceral nature of such an experience, MSHA has no 
reason to believe that quarterly training is necessary for miners to 
remember the experience of occupying a refuge alternative.
    Moreover, expectations training is intended to provide miners a 
basic understanding of the general sensation associated with occupancy 
in a refuge

[[Page 41368]]

alternative, so as to minimize some of the stress and/or disorientation 
that otherwise may accompany occupancy in an emergency situation. The 
training goal is accomplished when miners experience and appreciate the 
physiological and psychological sensations that can be expected when 
occupying a refuge alternative, and is not dependent on miners 
mastering and remembering detailed or sequential information. 
Importantly, this type of training is materially distinct in nature 
from the type of training associated with SCSR use (which involves 
mastery of, and immediate, highly-accurate performance of, multi-step 
actions) that NIOSH referenced when generally suggesting quarterly 
training for all aspects of refuge alternative deployment and use. 
Given the experiential nature of expectations training, as well as the 
unique and visceral nature of the experience, MSHA has determined that 
annual expectations training provides an experience sufficient to 
enable miners to apply their knowledge, other training, and available 
written instruction to effectively use the refuge alternative in an 
emergency.

III. Conclusion

    For the reasons stated above, MSHA concludes that annual motor-task 
(hands-on), decision-making, and expectations training--supplemented by 
existing mandated quarterly reviews, instructions, and drills--
effectively will prepare miners to deploy and use a refuge during an 
emergency. Accordingly, the existing rule Refuge Alternatives for 
Underground Coal Mines remains in effect without change.

    Authority: 30 U.S.C. 811.

David G. Zatezalo,
Assistant Secretary of Labor for Mine Safety and Health.
[FR Doc. 2020-13753 Filed 7-9-20; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 4520-43-P