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 5. Mine Rescue Teams.

§ 45.2-545. (Effective October 1, 2021) Mine rescue and first aid stations.

The Director may purchase, equip, and operate for the use of the Department mine rescue and first aid stations as he determines 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, § 45.1-161.67; 2021, Sp. Sess. I, c. 387.

§ 45.2-546. (Effective October 1, 2021) Mine rescue teams.

The Director may have trained and employed at the mine rescue and first aid stations operated by the Department mine rescue teams as he determines necessary. Each member of a mine rescue team 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 team 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 team 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 team member at any time.

1975, c. 432, § 45.1-33.1; 1984, c. 590; 1994, c. 28, § 45.1-161.68; 1996, c. 774; 2021, Sp. Sess. I, c. 387.

§ 45.2-547. (Effective October 1, 2021) Duty to train teams.

It is the duty and responsibility of the Department to see that every team is properly trained by a qualified instructor of the Department or other person who has a certificate of training from the Department or MSHA.

1975, c. 432, § 45.1-33.2; 1984, c. 590; 1994, c. 28, § 45.1-161.69; 2021, Sp. Sess. I, c. 387.

§ 45.2-548. (Effective October 1, 2021) Qualification for team membership; direction of teams.

A. To qualify for membership in a mine rescue team, 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 team member and a copy shall be furnished to the Director.

B. All rescue or recovery work performed by mine rescue teams shall be under the jurisdiction of the Department. The Department shall consult with company officials, representatives of MSHA, and representatives of the miners and all shall 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 manuals for the mine rescue apparatus or auxiliary equipment.

1975, c. 432, § 45.1-33.3; 1984, c. 590; 1994, c. 28, § 45.1-161.70; 1999, c. 256; 2004, c. 855; 2006, c. 396; 2021, Sp. Sess. I, c. 387.

§ 45.2-549. (Effective October 1, 2021) Team 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 team 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 the 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 team 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, § 45.1-161.71; 2021, Sp. Sess. I, c. 387.

§ 45.2-550. (Effective October 1, 2021) Requirements of recovery work.

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

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

C. For every two teams performing work underground, one six-member team 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 each team, and no team member shall be permitted to advance beyond such communication system.

E. A mine rescue team shall immediately return to the fresh air base if any team member's breathing apparatus malfunctions or the low-oxygen alarm activates.

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

1975, c. 432, § 45.1-33.5; 1984, c. 590; 1994, c. 28, § 45.1-161.72; 2021, Sp. Sess. I, c. 387.

§ 45.2-551. (Effective October 1, 2021) 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 that is certified as a mine rescue team by MSHA under 30 C.F.R. Part 49 shall be eligible to be a state-designated mine rescue 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 mine rescue teams to the operator. An operator who has paid the rescue fee is entitled to the rescue services of a state-designated mine rescue team at no additional charge.

1985, c. 496, § 45.1-33.5:1 ; 1994, c. 28, § 45.1-161.73; 1996, c. 774; 2021, Sp. Sess. I, c. 387.

§ 45.2-552. (Effective October 1, 2021) Mine Rescue Fund.

The Mine Rescue Fund, referred to in this section as "the Fund," is hereby created as a special nonreverting fund in the state treasury. The Fund shall be established on the books of the Comptroller. All moneys collected from operators pursuant to agreements entered into by the Director shall be paid into the state treasury and credited to the Fund. Moneys in the Fund shall be used only for mine rescue services under such agreements. 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.

1985, c. 496, § 45.1-33.5:2; 1994, c. 28, § 45.1-161.74; 2011, cc. 826, 862; 2021, Sp. Sess. I, c. 387.

§ 45.2-553. (Effective October 1, 2021) 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 each 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, § 45.1-161.75; 2021, Sp. Sess. I, c. 387.

§ 45.2-554. (Effective October 1, 2021) 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 conducted.

B. No member of a state-designated mine rescue team engaging in rescue work at a mine shall 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. No 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 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, § 45.1-161.76; 2007, cc. 894, 914; 2021, Sp. Sess. I, c. 387.