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NIOSH Releases Software for Coal Mine Rescue Assessment


March 18, 2023 - A new software training module from NIOSH is intended to assist mine operators, miners and industry stakeholders with emergency decision-making during coal mine rescues.

The module presents seven scenarios based on previous events at underground coal mines. Each includes general information about the mine, as well as maps and background information.

Instructors who guide participants through scenarios can stop during key points to present four potential actions that escaping miners might choose. Participants are asked to assess and rate each option and then compare their responses with feedback from emergency response experts and the factual details of each event.

“Sometimes it is clear what miners should or should not do for safe and effective self-escape,” NIOSH says. “However, there are times when even subject matter experts disagree about specific actions. The emergency decision-making training provides participants a place to practice making decisions when dealing with difficult circumstances.”

Under Title 30 CFR Part 49.50, mine rescue teams must meet these criteria:

  • Be available at all times when miners are underground, staying within one-hour ground travel time from the mine rescue station to the mine
  • Consist of five members and one alternate, except when alternative compliance is permitted
  • Have experience working in underground coal mines
  • Inspect, test and maintain appropriate rescue equipment after receiving it
  • Maintain physical fitness
  • Complete initial training