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 3. Certification of Coal Mine Workers.

§ 45.2-515. (Effective October 1, 2021) Board of Coal Mining Examiners; purpose.

The Board of Coal Mining Examiners (the Board) is established as a policy board in the executive branch of state government. The purpose of the Board is to issue certificates authorizing the performance of certain tasks.

Code 1950, §§ 45-1 through 45-3; 1954, c. 191; 1966, c. 594, § 45.1-3; 1984, c. 590; 1994, c. 28, § 45.1-161.15; 2021, Sp. Sess. I, c. 387.

§ 45.2-516. (Effective October 1, 2021) Board membership; terms; meetings.

A. The Board of Coal Mining Examiners shall have a total membership of five members that shall consist of four nonlegislative citizen members and one ex officio member. The four nonlegislative citizen members shall be appointed by the Governor as follows: one who is a miner who holds a first-class mine foreman's certificate with at least five years of experience in underground coal mining and who is employed at an underground coal mine in the Commonwealth in a nonmanagerial, nonsupervisory capacity at the time of appointment; one who is a miner with at least five years of experience in surface coal mining and is employed at a surface coal mine in the Commonwealth in a nonmanagerial, nonsupervisory capacity at the time of appointment; one who holds a first-class mine foreman's certificate with at least five years of experience in the operation of underground coal mines and is (i) an operator of an underground coal mine, (ii) an officer or director of a corporation operating an underground coal mine, (iii) a general partner of a partnership operating an underground coal mine, or (iv) an employee in a managerial or supervisory capacity of an operator of an underground coal mine in the Commonwealth at the time of appointment; and one who has at least five years of experience in the operation of surface coal mines and is (a) an operator of a surface coal mine, (b) an officer or director of a corporation operating a surface coal mine, (c) a general partner of a partnership operating a surface coal mine, or (d) an employee in a managerial or supervisory capacity of an operator of a surface coal mine in the Commonwealth at the time of appointment. Nonlegislative citizen members of the Board shall be residents of the Commonwealth. The Chief or his designee shall serve ex officio with voting privileges.

B. Members of the Board shall be appointed for terms of four years. The Chief shall serve a term coincident with his term of office. Vacancies occurring on the Board among appointed members shall be filled by the Governor for the unexpired term. All members may be reappointed.

C. The Chief shall serve as chairman of the Board.

D. The Board shall meet at least once a year and shall be called by the Chief to meet at such other times as he deems necessary. The Board shall meet at a place and at times as designated by the Chief and the Board shall remain in session until its work is completed, but no one session of the Board shall continue more than three days.

Code 1950, §§ 45-18 to 45-21, 45-26; 1954, c. 191; 1960, c. 61; 1966, c. 594, §§ 45.1-7, 45.1-10; 1978, cc. 120, 729; 1980, c. 728; 1984, c. 590, § 45.1-7; 1994, c. 28, §§ 45.1-161.24, 45.1-161.25; 2021, Sp. Sess. I, c. 387.

§ 45.2-517. (Effective October 1, 2021) Board compensation; expenses.

Nonlegislative citizen members of the Board of Coal Mining Examiners shall receive such compensation for the performance of their duties as provided in § 2.2-2813. All such nonlegislative citizen members shall be reimbursed for all reasonable and necessary expenses incurred in the performance of their duties as provided in §§ 2.2-2813 and 2.2-2825. Funding for the costs of compensation and expenses of such members shall be provided by the Coal Mining Examiners' Fund established in § 45.2-523.

Code 1950, § 45-26; 1954, c. 191; 1960, c. 61; 1966, c. 594, § 45.1-10; 1978, c. 120; 1980, c. 728; 1994, c. 28, § 45.1-161.25; 2021, Sp. Sess. I, c. 387.

§ 45.2-518. (Effective October 1, 2021) Records of the Board.

The Chief shall preserve in his office a record of the meetings and transactions of the Board of Coal Mining Examiners and of all certificates issued by the Board.

Code 1950, § 45-27; 1954, c. 191; 1966, c. 594, § 45.1-11; 1994, c. 28, § 45.1-161.26; 2021, Sp. Sess. I, c. 387.

§ 45.2-519. (Effective October 1, 2021) Nominations for the Board.

Nominations for appointments to the Board of Coal Mining Examiners may be submitted to the Governor by the Director and each organization of coal miners and coal industry interests in the Commonwealth. Nominations are to be made to the Governor by June 1 of the year in which the terms of appointments of members expire. In no case shall the Governor be bound to make any appointment from the nominations submitted.

Code 1950, §§ 45-4, 45-5, 45-6; 1954, c. 191; 1966, c. 594, § 45.1-4; 1972, c. 784; 1978, cc. 120, 727; 1981, c. 32; 1984, cc. 184, 337, 590; 1987, Sp. Sess., c. 1; 1994, c. 28, § 45.1-161.19; 1997, c. 390; 2021, Sp. Sess. I, c. 387.

§ 45.2-520. (Effective October 1, 2021) Certification of certain persons employed in coal mines; powers and duties of the Board.

A. The Board of Coal Mining Examiners may require certification of persons who work in coal mines and persons whose duties and responsibilities in relation to coal mining require competency, skill, or knowledge in order to perform in a manner consistent with the preservation of the health and safety of persons and property. Each of the following certificates shall be issued by the Board, and a person who holds such a certificate is authorized to perform the tasks that the Act or any regulation adopted by the Board or by the Department requires to be performed by such certified person:

1. First-class mine foreman;

2. First-class shaft or slope foreman;

3. Surface foreman;

4. Preparation plant foreman;

5. Electrical maintenance foreman;

6. Dock foreman;

7. Top person;

8. Underground shot firer;

9. Surface blaster;

10. Hoisting engineer;

11. Electrical repairman;

12. Automatic elevator operator;

13. Mine inspector;

14. Qualified gas detector;

15. Diesel engine mechanic;

16. Diesel engine mechanic instructor;

17. First aid instructor;

18. Advanced first aid;

19. Chief electrician; and

20. General coal miner.

B. Certification shall also be required for any additional tasks that the Board requires by regulation.

C. The Board may adopt regulations necessary or incidental to the performance of duties or the execution of powers conferred under this title. Such regulations shall be adopted in accordance with the provisions of Article 2 (§ 2.2-4006 et seq.) of the Administrative Process Act.

D. The Board may adopt regulations regarding on-site examinations of mine foremen conducted by mine inspectors pursuant to § 45.2-528.

Code 1950, §§ 45-23, 45-28, 45-31, 45-33.1; 1954, c. 191; 1966, c. 594, §§ 45.1-12, 45.1-14; 1972, c. 784; 1978, c. 729; 1980, c. 442; 1984, c. 237; 1993, c. 442; 1994, c. 28, § 45.1-161.28; 2021, Sp. Sess. I, c. 387.

§ 45.2-521. (Effective October 1, 2021) Examinations required for Coal Mining Certifications.

A. The Board of Coal Mining Examiners may require the examination of an applicant for certification; however, the Board shall require the examination of an applicant for the mine inspector certification. The Board may require other information from each applicant as necessary to ascertain competency and qualifications for each task. Except as specifically provided by the Act, the Board shall prescribe the qualifications for any certification. The examinations shall be conducted under regulations that the Board shall adopt. Such regulations, when adopted, shall (i) be made a part of the permanent record of the Board, (ii) be periodically published, and (iii) be of uniform application to all applicants.

B. Any certificate issued by the Board shall be valid from the date of issuance unless and until it has been suspended pursuant to § 45.2-527 or revoked by the Board pursuant to § 45.2-528.

Code 1950, §§ 45-23, 45-28; 1954, c. 191; 1966, c. 594, § 45.1-12; 1972, c. 784; 1978, c. 729; 1980, c. 442; 1984, c. 237; 1994, c. 28, § 45.1-161.29; 2021, Sp. Sess. I, c. 387.

§ 45.2-522. (Effective October 1, 2021) Performance of certain tasks by uncertified persons; penalty.

It is unlawful for any person to perform any task requiring certification by the Board of Coal Mining Examiners unless he has been certified. It is also unlawful for an operator or his agent to permit any uncertified person to perform such task. A violation of this section constitutes a Class 1 misdemeanor. Each day of operation without a required certification constitutes a separate offense.

1972, c. 784, § 45.1-12.1; 1994, c. 28, § 45.1-161.30; 2021, Sp. Sess. I, c. 387.

§ 45.2-523. (Effective October 1, 2021) Coal Mining Examiners' Fund.

There is hereby created in the state treasury a special nonreverting fund to be known as the Coal Mining Examiners' Fund, referred to in this section as "the Fund." The Fund shall be established on the books of the Comptroller. All fees collected pursuant to § 45.2-524, together with moneys collected pursuant to §§ 45.2-525 and 45.2-526, shall be paid into the state treasury and credited to the Fund. Interest earned on moneys in the Fund shall remain in the Fund and be credited to it. Any moneys remaining in the Fund, including interest thereon, at the end of each fiscal year shall not revert to the general fund but shall remain in the Fund. Moneys in the Fund shall be used solely for the purposes of covering the costs of administering the miner certification, the cost of printing certificates and other necessary forms, and the incidental expenses incurred by the Board in conducting examinations, reviewing examination papers, and conducting its other duties pursuant to this article. Expenditures and disbursements from the Fund shall be made by the State Treasurer on warrants issued by the Comptroller upon written request signed by the Chief. The Chief shall keep accounts and records concerning the receipts and expenditures of the Fund as required by the Auditor of Public Accounts.

Code 1950, §§ 45-24, 45-25; 1954, c. 191; 1966, c. 594, §§ 45.1-8, 45.1-9; 1972, c. 440; 1978, c. 120; 1984, c. 590; 1994, c. 28, § 45.1-161.31; 1996, c. 774; 2007, cc. 894, 914; 2021, Sp. Sess. I, c. 387.

§ 45.2-524. (Effective October 1, 2021) Examination fees.

A reasonable fee in an amount set by the Board of Coal Mining Examiners, not to exceed $50, shall be paid to the Chief by each person examined before the commencement of the examination. Fees collected shall be deposited in the Coal Mining Examiners' Fund created by § 45.2-523.

Code 1950, §§ 45-24, 45-25; 1954, c. 191; 1966, c. 594, §§ 45.1-8, 45.1-9; 1972, c. 440; 1978, c. 120; 1984, c. 590; 1994, c. 28, § 45.1-161.31; 1996, c. 774; 2007, cc. 894, 914; 2021, Sp. Sess. I, c. 387.

§ 45.2-525. (Effective October 1, 2021) Replacement of lost or destroyed certificates.

If any certificate issued by the Board of Coal Mining Examiners is lost or destroyed, the Chief may supply a copy such certificate to the person to whom it was issued, upon the payment of a reasonable fee in an amount set by the Board not to exceed $10, so long as it has been established to his satisfaction that the loss or destruction actually occurred and that the person seeking such copy was the holder of such certificate.

Code 1950, §§ 45-29, 45-31; 1954, c. 191; 1966, c. 594, § 45.1-13; 1978, c. 729; 1994, c. 28, § 45.1-161.32; 1999, c. 256; 2007, cc. 894, 914; 2021, Sp. Sess. I, c. 387.

§ 45.2-526. (Effective October 1, 2021) Reciprocal acceptances of other certifications.

A. In lieu of conducting an examination prescribed by law or regulation, the Board of Coal Mining Examiners may issue to any person holding a certificate issued by another state a certificate permitting him to perform similar tasks in the Commonwealth, so long as (i) the Board finds that the requirements for certification in such state are substantially equivalent to those of the Commonwealth and (ii) holders of certificates issued by the Board are permitted to perform similar tasks in such state, and obtain similar certification from such state if required, upon presentation of the certificate issued by the Board and without additional testing, training, or other requirements not directly related to program administration.

B. If the issuing authority in another state has revoked or suspended a certificate of a person who holds a similar Virginia certificate issued pursuant to this section, the person shall notify the Chief of such action by the other state within 10 days of such action. The Chief shall schedule a hearing of the Board to determine whether his Virginia certificate shall be revoked or suspended.

Code 1950, §§ 45-31, 45-33.1; 1954, c. 191; 1966, c. 594, § 45.1-14; 1972, c. 784; 1993, c. 442; 1994, c. 28, § 45.1-161.33; 2005, c. 3; 2021, Sp. Sess. I, c. 387.

§ 45.2-527. (Effective October 1, 2021) Continuing education requirements.

A. The Board of Coal Mining Examiners shall adopt regulations establishing requirements for programs of continuing education for holders of certificates. The Board shall establish (i) the content and amount of continuing education to be required for maintaining certification, (ii) parameters for the content of continuing education programs, (iii) procedures for approving continuing education programs and sponsors, (iv) distribution to holders of certificates of appropriate information regarding continuing education requirements, (v) provisions allowing surplus hours of continuing education to be carried forward from one period to meet the requirements for the next period, (vi) procedures for determining compliance with continuing education requirements, (vii) requirements for a certificate holder to provide the Board with his current address and such further administrative information as may be reasonable, and (viii) the length of time a certificate may be suspended for failure to comply with continuing education requirements before such certificate shall be revoked. The Board may also establish by regulation a fee to recover the reasonable costs of reissuing certificates or otherwise ascertaining that the requirements of this section have been satisfied.

B. A certificate issued by the Board of Coal Mining Examiners shall be suspended if the holder fails to comply with the continuing education requirements established by the Board. The suspension shall be vacated upon compliance with the continuing education requirements. However, if the holder of a certificate does not comply with the continuing education requirements within the period of time established by the Board, the certificate shall be revoked.

1994, c. 28, § 45.1-161.34; 2021, Sp. Sess. I, c. 387.

§ 45.2-528. (Effective October 1, 2021) Board action; suspend, revoke, or take other action.

A. The Board of Coal Mining Examiners may suspend, revoke, or take other action regarding any certificate upon finding that (i) the holder has (a) failed to comply with the continuing education requirements within the period following the suspension of the certificate as provided in § 45.2-527, (b) been intoxicated while on duty, (c) neglected his duties, (d) violated any provision of the Act or any other coal mining law of the Commonwealth, or (e) used any controlled substance without the prescription of a licensed prescriber or (ii) other sufficient cause exists. The Board shall also suspend, revoke, or take other action regarding the first-class mine foreman certificate of any mine foreman who fails to display a thorough understanding of the roof control plan and ventilation for the area of the mine that he is responsible for implementing when examined on-site by a mine inspector in accordance with guidelines adopted by the Board. In such a case, the Board shall make a determination, based on evidence presented by interested parties, of whether the mine foreman had a thorough knowledge of such plans at the time of his examination by the mine inspector.

B. The Board may act to suspend, revoke, or take other action regarding any certificate upon the presentation of written charges alleging prohibited conduct set forth in subsection A by (i) the Chief or the Director or his designated agent; (ii) the operator of a mine at which such person is employed; or (iii) 10 persons employed at the mine at which such person is employed, or, if fewer than 10 persons are employed at the mine, a majority of the employees at the mine. The Board may act on its own initiative to suspend, revoke, or take other action on any certificate for grounds set forth in clause (i)(a) of subsection A.

C. Any person holding a certificate issued by the Board shall report to the Chief within 30 days of any criminal conviction in any court of competent jurisdiction for possession or use of any controlled substance without the prescription of a licensed prescriber. This conviction shall result in the immediate temporary suspension of all certificates held by such person pending a hearing before the Board.

D. Any miner present at any mine shall be deemed to have given consent to reasonable search, at the direction of the Chief by employees of the Department, of his person and his personal property located at the mine. Such search shall be limited to the investigation of potential violations of the Act.

E. All information regarding substance abuse test results of certified persons, written or otherwise, received by the Department or Board shall be confidential. Any hearing of the Board in which such information is presented shall be conducted as a closed session in accordance with the Virginia Freedom of Information Act (§ 2.2-3700 et seq.).

F. An affirmative vote of a majority of members of the Board who are qualified to vote is required for any action to suspend, revoke, or take other action regarding a certificate.

G. Prior to suspending, revoking, or taking other action regarding a certificate, the Board shall give due notice to the holder of the certificate and conduct a hearing. Any hearing shall be conducted in accordance with § 2.2-4020 unless the parties agree to informal proceedings. The hearing may be conducted by the Board or, in the Board's discretion, by a hearing officer as provided in Article 5 (§ 2.2-4025 et seq.) of the Administrative Process Act.

H. Any hearing conducted after the temporary suspension of a miner's certificate due to (i) a criminal conviction in any court of competent jurisdiction for possession or use of any controlled substance without the prescription of a licensed prescriber as provided for in subsection C, (ii) a failure to pass a substance abuse test required by the Chief pursuant to § 45.2-556, (iii) a failure to pass a pre-employment substance abuse screening test, (iv) a discharge for violation of the company's substance or alcohol abuse policies, (v) a positive test for the use of any controlled substance without the prescription of a licensed prescriber, (vi) a positive test for intoxication while on duty status, or (vii) a failure to complete a substance abuse program pursuant to § 45.2-565 shall be conducted within 60 days of the temporary suspension. The Board shall make every effort to hold the hearing within 40 days of the temporary suspension.

I. Any person who has been aggrieved by a decision of the Board shall be entitled to judicial review of such decision. Appeals from such decisions shall be conducted in accordance with Article 5 (§ 2.2-4025 et seq.) of the Administrative Process Act.

Code 1950, §§ 45-29, 45-31; 1954, c. 191; 1966, c. 594, § 45.1-13; 1978, c. 729; 1994, c. 28, § 45.1-161.35; 2004, c. 855; 2007, cc. 894, 914; 2021, Sp. Sess. I, c. 387.

§ 45.2-529. (Effective October 1, 2021) Reexamination.

The holder of a certificate revoked pursuant to § 45.2-528 shall be entitled to examination by the Board of Coal Mining Examiners after three months have elapsed from the date of revocation of the certificate if he can prove to the satisfaction of the Board that the cause for revocation of his certificate has ceased to exist. However, no person convicted of violating § 45.2-848 or 45.2-849, subsection A of § 45.2-856, or § 45.2-857 shall be eligible for examination for a period of not less than one year nor more than three years following such conviction, such period to be set by the Board in its discretion at the time of revocation of the certificate.

Code 1950, §§ 45-29, 45-31; 1954, c. 191; 1966, c. 594, § 45.1-13; 1978, c. 729; 1994, c. 28, § 45.1-161.36; 2021, Sp. Sess. I, c. 387.

§ 45.2-530. (Effective October 1, 2021) General coal miner certification.

A. Every person working in a coal mine in the Commonwealth shall hold a general coal miner certificate issued by the Board of Coal Mining Examiners. The Board of Coal Mining Examiners shall issue a general coal miner certificate upon submittal of a complete application.

B. Each applicant for a general coal miner certificate who has not been employed to work in a Virginia coal mine prior to January 1, 1996, shall prove to the Board that he has knowledge of first aid practices and has a general working knowledge of the provisions of the Act, and applicable regulations, pertaining to coal mining health and safety. Each applicant shall have completed the miner training requirements of 30 C.F.R. Part 48 or submit proof of at least one year of experience in a coal mine prior to issuance of the general coal miner certificate.

1994, c. 28, § 45.1-161.37; 2005, c. 3; 2007, cc. 894, 914; 2021, Sp. Sess. I, c. 387.

§ 45.2-531. (Effective October 1, 2021) First-class mine foreman certification.

A. The operator of any coal mine where three or more persons work during any part of a 24-hour period shall employ a mine foreman. The operator shall employ as a mine foreman only a person holding a first-class mine foreman certificate. The holder of such certificate shall present the certificate, or a copy thereof, to the operator where he is employed. Such operator shall file the certificate or its copy in the office at the mine and make it available for inspection by interested persons.

B. The holder of a first-class mine foreman certificate shall be authorized to act as foreman for any underground coal mine.

C. An applicant for a first-class mine foreman certificate shall be at least 23 years of age and shall have had at least five years of experience in a coal mine, at least three years of which shall have been in an underground coal mine. A graduate of an approved course in mining engineering at a baccalaureate institution of higher education shall be given credit for three of the five years of practical experience required. An applicant who possesses a degree in mining technology shall be given credit for two of the five years of practical experience required. If the applicant meets the above requirements, makes 85 percent or more on each of the subjects of the written examination, and passes required map and gas examinations, he shall be entitled to a first-class mine foreman certificate. The written examination shall address, among other relevant topics, the theory and practice of coal mining; the nature and properties of noxious, poisonous, and explosive gases and methods for their detection and control; the requirements of the coal mining laws of the Commonwealth, including regulations adopted by the Department or the Board of Coal Mining Examiners; and the responsibilities and duties of a mine foreman under state law.

D. Each candidate for certification as a first-class mine foreman shall complete the course or courses of instruction in first aid as provided in subsection A of § 45.2-579 and pass an examination relating thereto, approved by the Board of Coal Mining Examiners.

Code 1950, §§ 45-7, 45-12, 45-29, 45-30, 45-31, 45-33.1, 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, §§ 45.1-13 to 45.1-15, 45.1-21, 45.1-101.2; 1972, c. 784; 1974, c. 686; 1976, c. 598; 1977, c. 679; 1978, cc. 94, 222, 489, 729; 1982, c. 255; 1984, cc. 178, 590; 1988, c. 577; 1993, cc. 171, 442; 1994, c. 28, § 45.1-161.38; 1997, c. 274; 2021, Sp. Sess. I, c. 387.

§ 45.2-532. (Effective October 1, 2021) Surface foreman certification.

A. An applicant for a surface foreman certificate shall be at least 23 years of age and have had at least five years of experience in a coal mine, at least three years of which shall have been in a surface coal mine. A graduate of an approved course in mining engineering at a baccalaureate institution of higher education shall be given credit for three of the five years of practical experience required. An applicant who possesses a degree in mining technology shall be given credit for two of the five years of required practical experience. Each applicant shall demonstrate to the Board of Coal Mining Examiners a thorough knowledge of the theory and practice of surface coal mining by making 85 percent or more on the written examination. In addition, each applicant shall pass the examination in gas detection. The holder of a surface foreman certificate issued by the Board shall be authorized to act as surface foreman at any surface coal mine.

B. Each candidate for certification as a surface foreman shall complete, at a minimum, a 24-hour course of instruction in advanced first aid taught by a certified advanced first aid instructor in accordance with subsection A of § 45.2-579 and pass an examination relating thereto approved by the Board. No course or examination shall be required of a candidate holding a current higher level of emergency medical certification from the State Department of Health.

Code 1950, §§ 45-23, 45-28; 1954, c. 191; 1966, c. 594, § 45.1-12; 1972, c. 784; 1978, c. 729; 1980, c. 442; 1984, c. 237; 1994, c. 28, § 45.1-161.39; 2007, cc. 894, 914; 2010, cc. 809, 857; 2021, Sp. Sess. I, c. 387.

§ 45.2-533. (Effective October 1, 2021) Chief electrician certification.

Each applicant for a chief electrician certificate shall demonstrate to the Board of Coal Mining Examiners by written and oral examination that he has a thorough knowledge of the theory and practice of electricity that pertains to coal mining. In addition, each applicant shall pass the examinations in first aid and gas detection. The holder of a chief electrician certificate issued by the Board may act as chief electrician in any coal mine.

Code 1950, §§ 45-23, 45-28; 1954, c. 191; 1966, c. 594, § 45.1-12; 1972, c. 784; 1978, c. 729; 1980, c. 442; 1984, c. 237; 1994, c. 28, § 45.1-161.40; 2021, Sp. Sess. I, c. 387.

§ 45.2-534. (Effective October 1, 2021) Top person certification.

Each applicant for a top person certificate shall demonstrate to the Board of Coal Mining Examiners by written and oral examination that he has a thorough knowledge of the theory and practice of shaft and slope mine construction. In addition, each applicant shall pass the examinations in first aid and gas detection. The holder of a top person certificate issued by the Board may act as top person in any coal mine.

1980, c. 442, § 45.1-20.1; 1994, c. 28, § 45.1-161.41; 2021, Sp. Sess. I, c. 387.