The mine safety and health administration's criterion threshold value policy increases miners' risk of pneumoconiosis

James L. Weeks

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Background: The Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) proposes to issue citations for non-compliance with the exposure limit for respirable coal mine dust when measured exposure exceeds the exposure limit with a "high degree of confidence." This criterion threshold value (CTV) is derived from the sampling and analytical error of the measurement method. Conceptual Framework: This policy is based on a combination of statistical and legal reasoning: the one-tailed 95% confidence limit of the sampling method, the apparent principle of due process and a standard of proof analogous to "beyond a reasonable doubt." Critique: This policy raises the effective exposure limit, it is contrary to the precautionary principle, it is not a fair sharing of the burden of uncertainty, and it employs an inappropriate standard of proof. Its own advisory committee and NIOSH have advised against this policy. For longwall mining sections, it results in a failure to issue citations for approximately 36% of the measured values that exceed the statutory exposure limit. Discussion: Citations for non-compliance with the respirable dust standard should be issued for any measure exposure that exceeds the exposure limit.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)492-498
Number of pages7
JournalAmerican Journal of Industrial Medicine
Volume49
Issue number6
DOIs
StatePublished - Jun 2006
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Coal mining
  • Compliance
  • Pneumoconiosis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health

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