The Dirty Dozen in 15 Minutes or Less
An unplanned ignition or explosion of a blasting agent or an explosive;
An unplanned roof fall at or above the anchorage zone in active workings where roof bolts are in use; or, an unplanned roof or rib fall in active workings that impairs ventilation or impedes passage;
A coal or rock outburst that causes withdrawal of miners or which disrupts regular mining activity for more than one hour;
An unstable condition at an impoundment, refuse pile, or culm bank which requires emergency action in order to prevent failure, or which causes individuals to evacuate an area; or, failure of an impoundment, refuse pile, or culm bank;
Damage to hoisting equipment in a shaft or slope which endangers an individual or which interferes with use of the equipment for more than 30 minutes; and
An event at a mine which causes death or bodily injury to an individual not at the mine at the time the event occurs.
MSHA appears to recognize the difficulties inherent in determining what constitutes “reasonable potential to cause death,” especially in cases where a decision must be made in a matter of minutes or where an all-hands rescue or recovery may be in progress. The agency suggests that experience and common medical knowledge point to concussions, cases requiring cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR), limb amputations, major upper body blunt force trauma, and cases of intermittent or extended unconsciousness, as among the type of injuries which have a reasonable potential to cause death.
Even with MSHA’s guidance, 15 minutes is often not enough time to analyze whether an event is a “defined” accident. The 15-minute rule improperly prioritizes accident reporting over emergency response. Despite its recognition that small mines may have difficulty complying with the 15-minute requirement because all personnel could be engaged in emergency response, MSHA refused to include in its final rule any exceptions for small mines. Nonetheless, MSHA will continue to vigorously enforce this provision at large- and mid-size mines.
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