Code of Virginia

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Code of Virginia
Title 45.2. Mines, Minerals, and Energy
Chapter 5. Coal Mine Safety Act
5/26/2022

Article 1. General Provisions.

§ 45.2-500. (Effective October 1, 2021) Coal Mine Safety Act.

For purposes of this title, this chapter and Chapters 7 (§ 45.2-700 et seq.), 8 (§ 45.2-800 et seq.), and 9 (§ 45.2-900 et seq.) shall be known as the Coal Mine Safety Act.

1984, c. 590, § 45.1-1.10; 1994, c. 28, § 45.1-161.7; 1997, c. 390; 2021, Sp. Sess. I, c. 387.

§ 45.2-501. (Effective October 1, 2021) Definitions.

As used in the Coal Mine Safety Act, unless the context requires a different meaning:

"Accident" means (i) a death of an individual at a mine; (ii) a serious personal injury; (iii) an entrapment of an individual for more than 30 minutes; (iv) an unplanned inundation of a mine by liquid or gas; (v) an unplanned ignition or explosion of gas or dust; (vi) an unplanned fire not extinguished within 30 minutes of discovery; (vii) an unplanned ignition or explosion of a blasting agent or an explosive; (viii) 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; (ix) a coal or rock outburst that causes withdrawal of miners or that disrupts regular mining activity for more than one hour; (x) an unstable condition at an impoundment, refuse pile, or culm bank that requires emergency action in order to prevent failure or that causes individuals to evacuate an area, or failure of an impoundment, refuse pile, or culm bank; (xi) damage to hoisting equipment in a shaft or slope that endangers an individual or interferes with use of the equipment for more than 30 minutes; (xii) an event at a mine that causes death or bodily injury to any individual not at a mine at the time the event occurs; and (xiii) the unintentional fall of highwall that entraps equipment for more than 30 minutes.

"Active area" means any place in a mine that is ventilated, if underground, and examined regularly.

"Active workings" means any place in a mine where miners are normally required to work or travel.

"Agent" means any person charged by the operator with responsibility for the operation of all or a part of a mine or the supervision of miners in a mine.

"Approved" means, with reference to a device, apparatus, equipment, condition, method, course, or practice, approved in writing by the Chief or the Director.

"Authorized person" means a person who is assigned by the operator or agent to perform a specific type of duty or to be at a specific location in the mine and is trained and has demonstrated the ability to perform such duty safely and effectively.

"Auxiliary fan" means a supplemental underground fan installed to increase the volume of air to a specified location for the purpose of controlling dust, methane, or air quality.

"Board" means the Board of Coal Mining Examiners established pursuant to Article 3 (§ 45.2-515 et seq.).

"Cable" means (i) a stranded conductor, known as single-conductor cable, or (ii) a combination of conductors insulated from one another, known as multiple-conductor cable.

"Certified person" means a person who holds a valid certificate from the Board of Coal Mining Examiners authorizing him to perform the task to which he is assigned.

"Circuit" means a conducting part or a system of conducting parts through which an electric current is intended to flow.

"Circuit breaker" means a device for interrupting a circuit between separable contacts under normal or abnormal conditions.

"Coal mine" means a surface coal mine or an underground coal mine.

"Coal Mine Safety Act" or "the Act" means this chapter and Chapters 7 (§ 45.2-700 et seq.), 8 (§ 45.2-800 et seq.), and 9 (§ 45.2-900 et seq.) and includes any regulations adopted thereunder, where applicable.

"Cross entry" means any entry or set of entries, turned from main entries, from which room entries are turned.

"Experienced surface miner" means a person with six months or more of experience working at a surface mine or the surface area of an underground coal mine.

"Experienced underground miner" means a person with six months or more of underground coal mining experience.

"Federal mine safety law" means the Federal Mine Safety and Health Act of 1977 (P.L. 91-173, as amended by 95-164), and regulations adopted thereunder.

"Fuse" means an overcurrent protective device with a circuit-opening fusible member directly heated and destroyed by the passage of overcurrent through it.

"Ground" means a conducting connection between an electric circuit or electrical equipment and earth or to some conducting body that serves in place of earth.

"Grounded" means connected to earth or to some connecting body that serves in place of earth.

"Hazardous condition" means a condition that is likely to cause death or serious personal injury to any person exposed to such condition.

"Imminent danger" means the existence of any condition or practice in a mine that could reasonably be expected to cause death or serious personal injury before such condition or practice can be abated.

"Inactive mine" means a mine (i) at which (a) coal or minerals have not been excavated or processed or (b) work, other than examination by a certified person or emergency work to preserve the mine, has not been performed for a period of 30 days at an underground coal mine or for a period of 60 days at a surface mine; (ii) for which a valid license is in effect; and (iii) at which reclamation activities have not been completed.

"Inexperienced underground miner" means a person with less than six months of underground coal mining experience.

"Intake air" means air that has not passed through the last active working place of the split of any working section or any worked-out area, whether pillared or nonpillared, and by analysis contains at least 19.5 percent oxygen and not more than 0.5 percent carbon dioxide and does not contain a hazardous quantity of flammable gas or a harmful quantity of poisonous gas.

"Interested persons" means members of the mine safety committee and other duly authorized representatives of the employees at a mine, MSHA employees, mine inspectors, and, to the extent required by the Act, any other person.

"Main entry" means the principal entry or set of entries driven through the coal bed or mineral deposit and from which cross entries, room entries, or rooms are turned.

"Mine" means any underground coal mine or surface coal mine. Mines that are adjacent to each other and under the same management and that are administered as distinct units are considered separate mines. A site is not considered a mine unless the coal extracted or excavated from it is offered for sale or exchange or used for any other commercial purpose. The area in which coal is excavated under an exemption to the permitting requirements of § 45.2-1009 is not a mine.

"Mine fire" means an unplanned fire not extinguished within 30 minutes of discovery.

"Mine foreman" means a person who holds a valid certificate of qualification as a foreman duly issued by action of the Board of Coal Mining Examiners.

"Mine inspector" means a public employee assigned by the Chief or the Director to make mine inspections as required by the Act and other applicable laws.

"Miner" means any individual working in a mine.

"Mineral" means clay, stone, sand, gravel, metalliferous and nonmetalliferous ores, and any other solid material or substance of commercial value excavated in solid form from natural deposits on or in the earth, exclusive of coal and any mineral that occurs naturally in liquid or gaseous form.

"Monthly" means, unless otherwise stated, occurring any time during the period of the first through the last day of a calendar month.

"Mine Safety and Health Administration" or "MSHA" means the federal Mine Safety and Health Administration.

"Operator" means any person who operates, controls, or supervises a mine or any independent contractor performing services or construction at a mine.

"Panel entry" means a room entry.

"Permissible" means a device, process, equipment, or method classified as "permissible" by MSHA, when such classification is adopted by the Chief or the Director, and includes all requirements, restrictions, exceptions, limitations, and conditions attached to such classification by MSHA unless otherwise expressly stated in the Act.

"Return air" means air that has passed through (i) the last active working place on each split or (ii) worked-out areas, whether pillared or nonpillared.

"Room entry" means any entry or set of entries from which rooms are turned.

"Serious personal injury" means any injury that has a reasonable potential to cause death or any injury other than a sprain or strain that requires an admission to a hospital for 24 hours or more for medical treatment.

"Substation" means an electrical installation containing generating or power-conversion equipment and associated electric equipment and parts, such as switchboards, switches, wiring, fuses, circuit breakers, compensators, and transformers.

"Surface coal mine" means (i) the pit and other active and inactive areas of surface extraction of coal; (ii) on-site preparation plants, shops, tipples, and related facilities appurtenant to the extraction and processing of coal; (iii) surface areas for the transportation and storage of coal extracted at the site; (iv) impoundments, retention dams, tailing ponds, and refuse disposal areas appurtenant to the extraction of coal from the site; (v) equipment, machinery, tools, and other property used in or to be used in the extraction of coal from the site; (vi) private ways and roads appurtenant to such areas; and (vii) the areas used to prepare a site for surface coal extraction activities. A site commences being a surface coal mine upon the beginning of any site preparation activity other than exploratory drilling or other exploration activity that does not disturb the surface and ceases to be a surface coal mine upon completion of initial reclamation activities.

"Travel way" means a passage, walk, or way regularly used and designated for persons to go from one place to another.

"Underground coal mine" means (i) the working face and other active and inactive areas of underground excavation of coal; (ii) underground travel ways, shafts, slopes, drifts, inclines, and tunnels connected to such areas; (iii) on-site preparation plants, shops, tipples, and related facilities appurtenant to the excavation and processing of coal; (iv) on-site surface areas for the transportation and storage of coal excavated at the site; (v) impoundments, retention dams, and tailing ponds appurtenant to the excavation of coal from the site; (vi) equipment, machinery, tools, and other property, on the surface and underground, used in or to be used in the excavation of coal from the site; (vii) private ways and roads appurtenant to such areas; (viii) the areas used to prepare a site for underground coal excavation activities; and (ix) areas used for the drilling of vertical ventilation holes. A site commences being an underground coal mine upon the beginning of any site preparation activity other than exploratory drilling or other exploration activity and ceases to be an underground coal mine upon completion of initial reclamation activities.

"Weekly" means, unless otherwise stated, occurring any time during the period of Sunday through Saturday of a calendar week.

"Work area" means an area of a surface coal mine in production or being prepared for production and an area of the mine that may pose a danger to miners at such area.

"Worked-out area" means an area where underground coal mining has been completed, whether pillared or nonpillared, excluding developing entries, return air courses, and intake air courses.

"Working face" means any place in a mine in which work of extracting coal from its natural deposit in the earth is performed during the mining cycle.

"Working place" means the area of an underground coal mine inby the last open crosscut.

"Working section" means all areas from the loading point of a section to and including the working faces.

Code 1950, § 45-0.2; 1954, c. 191; 1966, c. 594, § 45.1-2; 1975, c. 520; 1978, cc. 120, 489; 1980, c. 442; 1984, c. 590; 1993, c. 442; 1994, c. 28, § 45.1-161.8; 1996, c. 774; 1997, c. 390; 1999, c. 256; 2005, c. 3; 2021, Sp. Sess. I, c. 387.

§ 45.2-502. (Effective October 1, 2021) Safety and health.

In safety and health matters, all miners are to be governed by the Act, Article 4 (§ 45.2-617 et seq.) of Chapter 6, and any other sections of the Code relating to the safety and health of miners and regulations adopted by the Department.

1984, c. 590, § 45.1-1.7; 1994, c. 28, § 45.1-161.9; 2021, Sp. Sess. I, c. 387.

§ 45.2-503. (Effective October 1, 2021) Special safety rules.

The operator of each mine has the right to adopt special safety rules for the safety and operation of his mine, covering the work pertaining to the mine inside and outside of such mine. Such special safety rules shall not be in conflict with the provisions of the Act and, when established, shall be posted at some conspicuous place about the mine where the rules may be seen by all miners at such mine or in lieu thereof shall be furnished by the operator as a printed copy to each of the miners.

Code 1950, § 45-87; 1966, c. 594, § 45.1-31; 1984, c. 590; 1994, c. 28, § 45.1-161.10; 1996, c. 774; 2021, Sp. Sess. I, c. 387.

§ 45.2-504. (Effective October 1, 2021) Age requirement to work in mines.

A. No person under 18 years of age shall be permitted to work in or around any mine.

B. No operator, agent, or mine foreman shall make a false statement as to the age of any person under 18 years of age applying for work in or around any mine.

Code 1950, § 45-16; 1954, c. 191; 1966, c. 594, § 45.1-32; 1972, c. 154; 1994, c. 28, § 45.1-161.11; 2021, Sp. Sess. I, c. 387.

§ 45.2-505. (Effective October 1, 2021) Prohibited acts by miners or other persons; miners to comply with law.

A. No miner or other person shall (i) knowingly damage any shaft, lamp, instrument, air course, or brattice or obstruct any airway; (ii) carry in a mine any intoxicating liquors or controlled drugs without the prescription of a licensed physician; (iii) disturb any part of the machinery or appliances in a mine; (iv) open a door used for directing ventilation and fail to close it again; (v) enter any part of a mine against caution or a warning sign or barricade; or (vi) disobey any order issued pursuant to the provisions of the Act.

B. Each miner at any mine shall comply fully with the provisions of the Act and other mining laws of the Commonwealth, including regulations adopted by the Department or the Board, that pertain to his duties.

C. Any individual shall, upon the order of the Chief, complete training that addresses the subject of any violation issued to the individual as a condition for abatement of the violation.

Code 1950, § 45-72; 1954, c. 191; 1966, c. 594, § 45.1-26; 1978, cc. 489, 729; 1994, c. 28, § 45.1-161.12; 2005, c. 3; 2021, Sp. Sess. I, c. 387.

§ 45.2-506. (Effective October 1, 2021) Safety materials and supplies.

It is the duty of each operator or agent to keep on hand at all times at each mine, or within convenient distance of each mine, a sufficient quantity of all materials and supplies required to preserve the safety of miners, as required by the Act. If for any reason the operator or agent cannot procure the necessary materials or supplies, he shall cause all miners to withdraw from the mine, or from the affected portion of the mine, until such materials or supplies are received.

Code 1950, §§ 45-7, 45-12, 45-68.4, 45-69, 45-73, 45-75, 45-78, 45-79, 45-81, 45-83; 1950, p. 156; 1954, c. 191; 1966, c. 594, § 45.1-21; 1976, c. 598; 1978, cc. 222, 489; 1982, c. 255; 1984, cc. 178, 590; 1988, c. 577; 1993, cc. 171, 442; 1994, c. 28, § 45.1-161.13; 2021, Sp. Sess. I, c. 387.

§ 45.2-507. (Effective October 1, 2021) Notifying miners of violations; compliance with Act.

A. The operator and his agent shall cooperate with the mine foreman and other officials in the discharge of their duties as required by the Act. Such operator and agent shall direct the mine foreman and all other miners employed at the mine to comply with all provisions of the Act, especially when the attention of such operator or agent is called by the Chief, the Director, or a mine inspector to any violation of the Act.

B. The operator of any mine or his agent shall operate each of his mines at all times in full conformity with the Act and any other mining law of the Commonwealth, including regulations adopted by the Department or the Board. This requirement shall not relieve any other person who is subject to the provisions of the Act from his duty to comply with the requirements of the Act.

C. Nothing in the Act shall be construed to relieve an operator or his agent from the duty imposed at common law to secure the reasonable safety of his employees.

D. No operator, agent, or certified person shall knowingly permit any person to work in any part of a mine in violation of written instructions issued by a mine inspector pursuant to the Act.

E. The operator or his agent shall fully comply with any action plan required by the Chief to address hazardous conditions or practices.

Code 1950, §§ 45-7, 45-8, 45-12, 45-68.4, 45-69, 45-73, 45-75, 45-78, 45-79, 45-81, 45-83 to 45-85; 1950, p. 156; 1954, c. 191; 1966, c. 594, §§ 45.1-21, 45.1-30, 45.1-104; 1972, c. 784; 1974, c. 323; 1975, c. 320; 1976, c. 598; 1978, cc. 120, 222, 489, 729; 1982, cc. 118, 255; 1984, cc. 178, 590; 1988, c. 577; 1990, c. 963; 1993, cc. 171, 442; 1994, c. 28, § 45.1-161.14; 2005, c. 3; 2021, Sp. Sess. I, c. 387.