Code of Virginia

Code of Virginia
Title 45.1. Mines and Mining
10/15/2019

Article 6. Rescue Crews; Rescue Teams.

§ 45.1-161.67. Mine rescue and first aid stations.

The Director is hereby authorized to purchase, equip and operate for the use of the Department, such mine rescue and first aid stations as he may determine necessary for the adequate provision of mine rescue and recovery services at all mines in the Commonwealth.

1975, c. 432, § 45.1-33.1; 1984, c. 590; 1994, c. 28.

§ 45.1-161.68. Mine rescue crews.

The Director is hereby authorized to have trained and employed at the mine rescue and first aid stations operated by the Department within the Commonwealth mine rescue crews as he may determine necessary. Each member of a mine rescue crew shall devote four hours each month for training purposes and shall be available at all times to assist in rescue work. Members shall receive compensation for services at a rate set by the Director, to be determined annually based on prevailing wage rates within the industry. For the purposes of workers' compensation coverage during training periods, such crew members shall be deemed to be within the scope of their regular employment. The Director shall certify to the Comptroller of the Commonwealth that such crew members have performed the required service. Upon such certification the Comptroller shall issue a warrant upon the state treasury for their compensation. The Director may remove any crew member at any time.

1975, c. 432, § 45.1-33.1; 1984, c. 590; 1994, c. 28; 1996, c. 774.

§ 45.1-161.69. Duty to train crew.

It shall be the duty and responsibility of the Department to see that all crews be properly trained by a qualified instructor of the Department or such other persons who have a certificate of training from the Department or the Mine Safety and Health Administration.

1975, c. 432, § 45.1-33.2; 1984, c. 590; 1994, c. 28.

§ 45.1-161.70. Qualification for crew membership; direction of crews.

A. To qualify for membership in mine rescue crews an applicant shall be an experienced miner and shall pass a physical examination by a licensed physician, physician assistant, or licensed nurse practitioner at least annually. A record that such examination was taken shall be kept on file by the operator who employs the crew members and a copy shall be furnished to the Director.

B. All rescue or recovery work performed by these crews shall be under the jurisdiction of the Department. The Department shall consult with company officials, representatives of the Mine Safety and Health Administration and representatives of the miners, and all should be in agreement as far as possible on the proper procedure for rescue and recovery; however, the Chief in his discretion may take full responsibility in directing such work. Procedures for use of apparatus or equipment shall be guided by the mine rescue apparatus and auxiliary equipment manuals.

1975, c. 432, § 45.1-33.3; 1984, c. 590; 1994, c. 28; 1999, c. 256; 2004, c. 855; 2006, c. 396.

§ 45.1-161.71. Crew members to be considered employees of the mine where emergency exists; compensation; workers' compensation.

When engaged in rescue or recovery work during an emergency at a mine, all crew members assigned to the work shall be considered, during the period of their work, employees of the mine where the emergency exists and shall be compensated by the operator at the rate established in the area for such work. In no event shall this rate be less than the prevailing wage rate in the industry for the most skilled class of inside mine labor. During the period of their emergency employment, all crew members shall be deemed to be within the employment of the operator of the mine for the purpose of workers' compensation coverage.

1975, c. 432, § 45.1-33.4; 1994, c. 28.

§ 45.1-161.72. Requirements of recovery work.

A. During recovery work and prior to entering any mine, all mine rescue crews conducting recovery work shall be properly informed of existing conditions by the operator or his agent in charge.

B. Each mine rescue crew performing rescue or recovery work with breathing apparatus shall be provided with a backup crew of equal strength, stationed at each fresh air base.

C. For every two crews performing work underground, one six-member crew shall be stationed at the mine portal.

D. Two-way communication, life lines or their equivalent shall be provided by the fresh air base to all crews and no crew member shall be permitted to advance beyond such communication system.

E. A mine rescue crew shall immediately return to the fresh air base should any crew member's breathing apparatus malfunction or the atmospheric pressure of any apparatus deplete to sixty atmospheres.

F. The Director may also assign rescue and recovery work to inspectors, instructors or other qualified employees of the Department as the Director may determine desirable.

1975, c. 432, § 45.1-33.5; 1984, c. 590; 1994, c. 28.

§ 45.1-161.73. State-designated mine rescue teams.

The Director may, upon the request of an operator or agent who employs a mine rescue team, designate two or more mine rescue teams as "state-designated mine rescue teams." Any team which is certified as a mine rescue team by the Mine Safety and Health Administration under 30 CFR Part 49 shall be eligible to be a state-designated team. Following the designation of any such teams, the Director shall, upon the payment to the Department of an annual fee, set by the Director based on current costs for maintaining mine rescue stations and personnel, assign two or more state-designated teams to the operator. An operator who has paid the rescue fee shall be entitled to the rescue services of a state-designated rescue team at no additional charge.

1985, c. 496, § 45.1-33.5:1; 1994, c. 28; 1996, c. 774.

§ 45.1-161.74. Mine Rescue Fund.

The Mine Rescue Fund is created as a special fund in the office of the State Treasurer. All moneys collected from operators pursuant to agreements entered into by the Director shall be paid into the Mine Rescue Fund. Moneys in the Mine Rescue Fund shall be used only for mine rescue services under such agreements. No moneys in the Mine Rescue Fund shall revert to the general fund.

1985, c. 496, § 45.1-33.5:2; 1994, c. 28; 2011, cc. 826, 862.

§ 45.1-161.75. Inspections; Mine Rescue Coordinator.

A. The Director shall (i) inspect, or cause to be inspected, the rescue station of each state-designated mine rescue team four times a year, (ii) ensure that all rescue stations are adequately equipped, and (iii) ensure that all team members are adequately trained.

B. The Director shall designate an employee of the Department as the Mine Rescue Coordinator, who shall perform the duties assigned to him by the Director.

1985, c. 496, § 45.1-33.5:3; 1994, c. 28.

§ 45.1-161.76. Workers' compensation; liability.

A. For the purpose of workers' compensation coverage, during any mine disaster to which a state-designated mine rescue team responds under the provisions of this article or during any training exercise for a state-designated mine rescue team, members of the state-designated team shall be deemed to be within the employment of the operator of the mine at which the disaster occurred or the training exercise is conducted. Additionally, for purposes of workers' compensation coverage, travel by members of a state-designated mine rescue team to and from the mine disaster or training exercise shall be deemed to be within the employment of the operator of the mine at which the disaster occurred or the training exercise is to be or was conducted.

B. Any member of a state-designated team engaging in rescue work at a mine shall not be liable for civil damages for acts or omissions resulting from the rendering of such rescue work unless the act or omission was the result of gross negligence or willful misconduct.

C. Any operator providing personnel to a state-designated mine rescue team to engage in rescue work at a mine not owned or operated by the operator shall not be liable for any civil damages for acts or omissions resulting from the rendering of such rescue work.

1985, c. 496, § 45.1-33.5:4; 1994, c. 28; 2007, cc. 894, 914.

The chapters of the acts of assembly referenced in the historical citation at the end of these sections may not constitute a comprehensive list of such chapters and may exclude chapters whose provisions have expired.

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