HARRISBURG – The Department of Environmental Protection has announced that underground coal mines will soon be required to install automated external defibrillators on the surface near the mine entry and underground in each working mine section. The requirement comes as part of a regulatory rulemaking that will appear in the Dec. 8 edition of the Pennsylvania Bulletin and take effect March 8, 2013.
“This requirement, which was overwhelmingly supported by mine operators and workers, is the first of its kind in the nation and is just another example of how Pennsylvania leads the world in deep mine safety,” DEP Secretary Mike Krancer said. “These defibrillators will help save lives in our underground mines.
“Thanks to cooperation among regulators, labor and management, Pennsylvania has gone an unprecedented 42 months without a fatality in an underground mine,” he said.
The portable automated external defibrillator units, which use short, electric shocks to restore a stable heart rhythm in the event of a heart attack, must be placed both on the surface near the mine entry and within every working section of the mine where active, underground mining is taking place.
The Board of Coal Mine Safety, which includes representation from DEP, the United Mine Workers of America and coal mine operators, crafted the regulations, which also require emergency medical technicians to be trained how to use the safety equipment.
DEP accepted public comments on the rulemaking for a 30-day period in November 2011. Pennsylvania currently has 36 underground bituminous coal mines in operation, employing more than 5,000 workers.
For more information, visit www.dep.state.pa.us or call 724-439-7469.