The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection said Dec. 6 that underground coal mines in the state will soon be required to install automated external defibrillators on the surface near the mine entry and underground in each working mine section.
The requirement comes as part of a regulatory rulemaking that will appear in the Dec. 8 edition of the Pennsylvania Bulletin and take effect March 8, 2013.
“This requirement, which was overwhelmingly supported by mine operators and workers, is the first of its kind in the nation and is just another example of how Pennsylvania leads the world in deep mine safety,” said DEP Secretary Mike Krancer. “These defibrillators will help save lives in our underground mines. Thanks to cooperation among regulators, labor and management, Pennsylvania has gone an unprecedented 42 months without a fatality in an underground mine.”
The portable automated external defibrillator units, which use short bursts of electricity to restore a stable heart rhythm in the event of a heart attack, must be placed both on the surface near the mine entry and within every working section of the mine where active, underground mining is taking place.
The Pennsylvania Board of Coal Mine Safety, which includes representation from the DEP, the United Mine Workers of America union and coal mine operators, crafted the regulations, which also require emergency medical technicians to be trained in how to use the safety equipment. DEP accepted public comments on the rulemaking for a 30-day period in November 2011.
Pennsylvania currently has 36 underground bituminous coal mines in operation, employing more than 5,000 workers. That includes big longwall mines in the Pittsburgh coal seam operated by CONSOL Energy (Bailey and Enlow Fork) and Alpha Natural Resources (Cumberland and Emerald). Rosebud Mining has the greatest number of deep mines in the state, all room-and-pillar jobs.