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 6. Mine Explosions; Mine Fires; Accidents.

§ 45.2-555. (Effective October 1, 2021) Reports of explosions and mine fires; procedure.

A. If an explosion or mine fire occurs in a mine, the operator shall notify the Department by the quickest available means. All facilities of the mine shall be made available for rescue and recovery operations and firefighting.

B. No work other than rescue and recovery work and firefighting shall be attempted unless authorized by the Department.

C. If an explosion occurs in an underground coal mine, the fan shall not be reversed except by authority of the officials in charge of rescue and recovery work, and then only after a study of the effect of reversing the fan on any person who may have survived the explosion and is still underground.

D. The Department shall make available all the facilities at its disposal in effecting rescue and recovery work. The Chief shall act as consultant, or take personal charge, where in his opinion the circumstances of any mine explosion, fire, or other accident warrant.

E. The orders of the official in charge of rescue and recovery work shall be respected and obeyed by all persons engaged in rescue and recovery work.

F. The Chief shall maintain an up-to-date rescue and recovery plan for prompt and adequate employment at any coal mine in the Commonwealth. All employees of the Department shall be kept fully informed and trained in their respective duties in executing rescue and recovery plans. The Department's plan shall be reviewed annually. Any changes in the plan shall be published promptly and made available to all operators of mines.

Code 1950, § 45-14; 1954, c. 191; 1966, c. 594, § 45.1-6; 1984, c. 590; 1994, c. 28, § 45.1-161.77; 1997, c. 390; 1999, c. 256; 2011, cc. 826, 862; 2021, Sp. Sess. I, c. 387.

§ 45.2-556. (Effective October 1, 2021) Operators' reports of accidents; investigations; reports by Department.

A. Each operator shall report promptly to the Department the occurrence at any mine of any accident. The scene of the accident shall not be disturbed pending an investigation, except to the extent necessary to rescue or recover a person, prevent or eliminate an imminent danger, prevent destruction of mining equipment, or prevent suspension of use of a slope, entry, or facility vital to the operation of a section or a mine. In a case in which reasonable doubt exists as to whether to leave the scene unchanged, the operator shall secure prior approval from the Department before any changes are made.

B. The Chief shall go personally or dispatch one or more mine inspectors to the scene of such a coal mine accident, investigate causes, and issue such orders as may be needed to ensure safety of other persons.

C. Representatives of the operator shall render assistance as needed and act in a consulting capacity in the investigation. An employee, if so designated by the employees of the mine, shall be notified and as many as three employees, if so designated as representatives of the employees, may be present at the investigation in a consulting capacity.

D. The Chief shall require substance abuse testing as part of an inspection or complaint investigation if there is reasonable cause to suspect a miner's impairment, due to the presence of intoxicants or any controlled substance not used in accordance with the prescription of a licensed prescriber, has been a contributing factor to any accident in which a serious personal injury or death has occurred at a mine. The Chief shall require substance abuse testing of any miner killed or seriously injured and of any other person who might have contributed to the accident. Any substance abuse testing required by the Chief shall be paid for by the Department. Refusal by any miner to submit to substance abuse testing, or the failure to pass such a test, shall result in the immediate temporary suspension of all certificates held by the miner, pending a hearing before the Board of Coal Mining Examiners.

E. The Department shall render a complete report of circumstances and causes of each accident investigated and make recommendations for the prevention of similar accidents. The Department shall furnish one copy of the report to the operator and one copy to an employee representative if one was present at the investigation. The Chief shall maintain a complete file of all accident reports for coal mines and provide further dissemination as ordered by the Director in an effort to prevent mine accidents.

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, § 45.1-161.78; 1997, c. 390; 1999, c. 256; 2007, cc. 894, 914; 2021, Sp. Sess. I, c. 387.

§ 45.2-557. (Effective October 1, 2021) Reports of other accidents and injuries.

A. Each miner employed at a mine shall promptly notify his supervisor of any injury received during the course of his employment.

B. Each operator shall keep on file a report of each accident, including any accident that does not result in a lost-time injury. Copies of an accident report shall be given to the person injured or to his designated representative to review such report and verify its accuracy prior to filing it for review by state or federal mine inspectors.

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, § 45.1-161.79; 2021, Sp. Sess. I, c. 387.

§ 45.2-558. (Effective October 1, 2021) Duties of mine inspectors.

Each mine inspector shall:

1. Report to his supervisor immediately by the quickest available means any mine fire or explosion or any accident that results in loss of life or serious personal injury;

2. Proceed immediately to the scene of any accident at any mine under his jurisdiction that results in loss of life or serious personal injury and to the scene of any mine fire or explosion regardless of whether there is loss of life or serious personal injury;

3. Make such investigation and suggestions and render such assistance as he deems necessary for the future safety of the employees and make a complete report to his supervisor as soon as practicable;

4. Provide assistance to mine rescue and recovery operations whenever a mine fire or explosion or any accident that results in loss of life or serious personal injury occurs; and

5. Monitor the reopening of every mine or section thereof that has been sealed or abandoned on account of mine fire or explosion, serious accident, or any other cause in accordance with a plan approved by the Chief.

Code 1950, §§ 45-4.1, 45-7, 45-9, 45-12, 45-68.4, 45-69, 45-73, 45-74, 45-75, 45-78, 45-79, 45-81, 45-83; 1950, p. 156; 1954, c. 191; 1966, c. 594, §§ 45.1-5, 45.1-21; 1976, c. 598; 1978, cc. 120, 222, 489; 1982, c. 255; 1984, cc. 178, 236, 590; 1985, c. 448; 1987, c. 470; 1988, c. 577; 1990, c. 963; 1993, cc. 171, 442; 1994, c. 28, § 45.1-161.80; 1996, c. 774; 1999, c. 256; 2005, c. 3; 2021, Sp. Sess. I, c. 387.