Signature Accomplishment: Disaster Prevention Research

Coal mine operators are required to maintain an incombustible content of at least 65 percent in the entries and 80 percent in the returns (30 CFR 75.403). The U.S. Bureau of Mines and Mining Program research efforts have focused for some time on coal dust explosibility and rendering the dust inert through the application of incombustible material. The recent release of the hand-held Dust Explosibility Meter developed by NIOSH in collaboration with MSHA is a signature accomplishment of the NIOSH Mining Program (Sapko and Verakis, 2006). The meter directly assesses the effectiveness of rock dusting, avoiding a two-week wait for laboratory analysis. Although it will not replace in-depth laboratory analysis, it will provide a more immediate determination of the adequacy of rock dusting. If the prototype is made available commercially and utilized throughout the coal mining industry, safety should be improved.

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