West Virginia Code
The Legislature hereby finds and declares:
(1) That the first priority and concern of all persons in the coal mining industry must be the health and safety of its most precious resource - the miner;
(2) That in furtherance of this priority, the provisions of article two of this chapter are designed to protect the health and safety of this State’s coal miners by requiring certain minimum standards for, among other things, certain health and safety technology used by each underground miner;
(3) That the proper implementation of this technology in West Virginia’s underground mines would benefit from the specialized oversight of persons with experience and competence in coal mining, coal mine health and safety and the expanding role of technology; and
(4) That, in furtherance of provisions of this section, it is the intent of the Legislature to direct that the Board of Coal Mine Health and Safety, on a continuous basis, evaluate and study issues relating to the commercial availability and functional and operational capability of existing and emerging technologies in coal mine health and safety, as well as issues relating to the implementation, compliance and enforcement of regulatory requirements governing the technologies.
(a) The Mine Safety Technology Task Force hereby abolished. All duties and responsibilities imposed upon the Mine Safety Technology Task Force are transferred and hereby imposed upon the Board of Coal Mine Health and Safety. On the effective date of the reenactment of this article and section of the code, all equipment and records necessary to effectuate the purposes of this article shall be transferred to the Board of Coal Mine Health and Safety.
(a) The board shall provide technical and other assistance to the office related to the implementation of the new technological requirements set forth in the provisions of section fifty-five, article two of this chapter, as amended and reenacted during the regular session of the Legislature in 2006 and requirements for other mine safety technologies.
(b) The board, working in conjunction with the director, shall continue to study issues regarding the commercial availability, the functional and operational capability and the implementation, compliance and enforcement of the following protective equipment:
(1) Self-contained self-rescue devices, as provided in subsection (f), section fifty-five, article two of this chapter;
(2) Wireless emergency communication devices, as provided in subsection (g), section fifty-five, article two of this chapter;
(3) Wireless emergency tracking devices, as provided in subsection (h), section fifty-five, article two of this chapter; and
(4) Any other protective equipment required by this chapter or rules promulgated in accordance with the law that the director determines would benefit from the expertise of the task force.
(c) The board shall on a continuous basis study, monitor and evaluate:
(1) The potential for enhancing coal mine health and safety through the application of existing technologies and techniques;
(2) Opportunities for improving the integration of technologies and procedures to increase the performance and survivability of coal mine health and safety systems;
(3) Emerging technological advances in coal mine health and safety; and
(4) Market forces impacting the development of new technologies, including issues regarding the costs of research and development, regulatory certification and incentives designed to stimulate the marketplace.
(d) On or before July 1 of each year, the board shall submit a report to the Governor and the director that shall include, but not be limited to:
(1) A comprehensive overview of issues regarding the implementation of the new technological requirements set forth in the provisions of section fifty-five, article two of this chapter, or rules promulgated in accordance with the law;
(2) A summary of any emerging technological advances that would improve coal mine health and safety;
(3) Recommendations, if any, for the enactment, repeal or amendment of any statute which would enhance technological advancement in coal mine health and safety; and
(4) Any other information the board considers appropriate.
(e) In performing its duties, the board shall, where possible, consult with, among others, mine engineering and mine safety experts, radio communication and telemetry experts and relevant state and federal regulatory personnel.
(f) Appropriations to the board and to effectuate the purposes of this article shall be made to one or more budget accounts established for that purpose.
(g) The board shall annually compile a proposed list of approved innovative mine safety technologies and transmit the list to the Director of the Office of Miners’ Health, Safety and Training as provided in section four, article thirteen-bb, chapter eleven of this code. The list shall be approved by unanimous vote of the board.
Prior to approving any protective equipment or device that has been evaluated by the board pursuant to the provisions of subsection (b), section three of this article, the director shall consult with the board and review any applicable written reports issued by the board and the findings set forth in the reports and shall consider the findings in making any approval determination.
By August 31, 2017, all existing state rules promulgated pursuant to the authority of this chapter shall be revised to reflect the changes in this chapter enacted by the Legislature during the 2017 regular session.