H.R. 5481 (109th): MINERS for Mining Act

109th Congress, 2005–2006. Text as of May 25, 2006 (Introduced).

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I

109th CONGRESS

2d Session

H. R. 5481

IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES

May 25, 2006

introduced the following bill; which was referred to the Committee on Education and the Workforce

A BILL

To amend the Federal Mine Safety and Health Act of 1977 to improve the safety of mines and mining.

1.

Short title

This Act may be cited as the Modernizing and Improving the National Emergency Response System for Mining Act or the MINERS for Mining Act.

2.

Emergency response

Section 316 of the Federal Mine Safety and Health Act of 1977 (30 U.S.C. 876) is amended—

(1)

in the section heading by adding at the end the following: and emergency response plans;

(2)

by striking Telephone and inserting (a) In general.—Telephone; and

(3)

by adding at the end the following:

(b)

Accident preparedness and response

(1)

In general

Each underground coal mine operator shall carry out on a continuing basis a program to improve accident preparedness and response at each mine.

(2)

Response and preparedness plan

(A)

In general

Not later than 60 days after the date of enactment of this Act, each underground coal mine operator shall develop and adopt a written accident response plan that complies with this subsection with respect to each mine of the operator, and periodically update such plans to reflect changes in operations in the mine, advances in technology, or other relevant considerations. Each such operator shall make the accident response plan available to the miners and the miners’ representatives.

(B)

Plan requirements

An accident response plan under subparagraph (A) shall—

(i)

provide for the evacuation of all individuals endangered by an emergency; and

(ii)

provide for the maintenance of individuals trapped underground in the event that miners are not able to evacuate the mine.

(C)

Plan approval

The accident response plan under subparagraph (A) shall be subject to review and approval by the Secretary. Approved plans shall—

(i)

afford miners a level of safety protection at least consistent with existing standards, including standards mandated by law and regulation;

(ii)

reflect the most recent credible scientific research;

(iii)

be technologically feasible, make use of current commercially available technology, and account for the specific physical characteristics of the mine; and

(iv)

reflect the improvements in mine safety gained from experience under this Act and other worker safety and health laws.

(D)

Plan review

The accident response plan under subparagraph (A) shall be reviewed periodically, but at least every 6 months, by the Secretary. In such periodic reviews, the Secretary shall consider intervening advancements in science and technology that could be implemented to enhance miners’ ability to evacuate or otherwise survive in an emergency.

(E)

Plan content-general requirements

To be approved under subparagraph (C), an accident response plan shall include the following:

(i)

Post-accident communications

The plan shall provide for a redundant means of communication with the surface for persons underground, such as secondary telephone or equivalent two-way communication.

(ii)

Post-accident tracking

Consistent with commercially available technology and with the physical constraints, if any, of the mine, the plan shall provide for above ground personnel to determine the current, or immediately pre-accident, location of all underground personnel. Any system so utilized shall be functional, reliable, and calculated to remain serviceable in a post-accident setting.

(iii)

Post-accident breathable air

The plan shall provide for—

(I)

emergency supplies of breathable air for individuals trapped underground sufficient to maintain such individuals for a sustained period of time;

(II)

in addition to the 2 hours of breathable air per miner required by law under the emergency temporary standard as of the day before the date of enactment of the Modernizing and Improving the National Emergency Response System for Mining Act, caches of self-rescuers providing in the aggregate not less than 2 hours per miner to be kept in escapeways from the deepest work area to the surface at a distance of no further than an average miner could walk in 30 minutes;

(III)

a maintenance schedule for checking the reliability of self rescuers, retiring older self-rescuers first, and introducing new self-rescuer technology, such as units with interchangeable air or oxygen cylinders not requiring doffing to replenish airflow and units with supplies of greater than 60 minutes, as they are approved by the Administration and become available on the market; and

(IV)

training for each miner in proper procedures for donning self-rescuers, switching from one unit to another, and ensuring a proper fit.

(iv)

Post-accident lifelines

The plan shall provide for the use of flame-resistant directional lifelines or equivalent systems in escapeways to enable evacuation. The flame-resistance requirement of this clause shall apply upon the replacement of existing lifelines, or, in the case of lifelines in working sections, upon the earlier of the replacement of such lifelines or 3 years after the date of enactment of this Act.

(v)

Training

The plan shall provide a training program for emergency procedures described in the plan which will not diminish the requirements for mandatory health and safety training currently required under section 115.

(vi)

Local coordination

The plan shall set out procedures for coordination and communication between the operator, mine rescue teams, and local emergency response personnel and make provisions for familiarizing local rescue personnel with surface functions that may be required in the course of mine rescue work.

(F)

Plan content-specific requirements

(i)

In general

In addition to the content requirements contained in subparagraph (E), and subject to the considerations contained in subparagraph (C), the Secretary may make additional plan requirements with respect to any of the content matters.

(ii)

Post accident communications

Not later than 3 years after the date of enactment of the Modernizing and Improving the National Emergency Response System for Mining Act, a plan shall, to be approved, provide for post accident communication between underground and surface personnel via a wireless two-way medium, and provide for an electronic tracking system permitting surface personnel to determine the location of any persons trapped underground or set forth within the plan the reasons such provisions can not be adopted. Where such plan sets forth the reasons such provisions can not be adopted, the plan shall also set forth the operator’s alternative means of compliance. Such alternative shall approximate, as closely as possible, the degree of functional utility and safety protection provided by the wireless two-way medium and tracking system referred to in this subpart.

(G)

Plan dispute resolution

(i)

In general

Any dispute between the Secretary and an operator with respect to the content of the operator’s plan or any refusal by the Secretary to approve such a plan shall be resolved on an expedited basis.

(ii)

Disputes

In the event of a dispute or refusal described in clause (i), the Secretary shall issue a citation which shall be immediately referred to a Commission Administrative Law Judge. The Secretary and the operator shall submit all relevant material regarding the dispute to the Administrative Law Judge within 15 days of the date of the referral. The Administrative Law Judge shall render his or her decision with respect to the plan content dispute within 15 days of the receipt of the submission.

(iii)

Further appeals

A party adversely affected by a decision under clause (ii) may pursue all further available appeal rights with respect to the citation involved, except that inclusion of the disputed provision in the plan will not be limited by such appeal unless such relief is requested by the operator and permitted by the Administrative Law Judge.

(H)

Maintaining protections for miners

Notwithstanding any other provision of this Act, nothing in this section, and no response and preparedness plan developed under this section, shall be approved if it reduces the protection afforded miners by an existing mandatory health or safety standard.

.

3.

Incident command and control

Title I of the Federal Mine Safety and Health Act of 1977 (30 U.S.C. 811 et seq.) is amended by adding at the end the following:

116.

Limitation on certain liability for rescue operations

(a)

In general

No person shall bring an action against any covered individual or his or her regular employer for property damage or an injury (or death) sustained as a result of carrying out activities relating to mine accident rescue or recovery operations. This subsection shall not apply where the action that is alleged to result in the property damages or injury (or death) was the result of gross negligence, reckless conduct, or a willful violation of law or, where the regular employer (as such term is used in this Act) is the operator of the mine at which the rescue activity takes place. Nothing in this section shall be construed to preempt State workers' compensation laws.

(b)

Covered individual

For purposes of subsection (a), the term covered individual means an individual—

(1)

who is a member of a mine rescue team or who is otherwise a volunteer with respect to a mine accident; and

(2)

who is carrying out activities relating to mine accident rescue or recovery operations.

(c)

Regular employer

For purposes of subsection (a), the term regular employer means the entity that is the covered employee’s legal or statutory employer pursuant to applicable State law.

.

4.

Mine rescue teams

Section 115(e) of the Federal Mine Safety and Health Act of 1977 (30 U.S.C. 825(e)) is amended—

(1)

by inserting (1) after the subsection designation; and

(2)

by adding at the end the following:

(2)
(A)

The Secretary shall issue regulations with regard to mine rescue teams which shall be finalized and in effect not later than 18 months after the date of enactment of this Act.

(B)

Such regulations shall provide for the following:

(i)

That such regulations shall not be construed to waive operator training requirements applicable to existing mine rescue teams.

(ii)

That the Mine Safety and Health Administration shall establish, and update every 5 years thereafter, criteria to certify the qualifications of mine rescue teams.

(iii)
(I)

That the operator of each underground coal mine with more than 36 employees—

(aa)

have an employee knowledgeable in mine emergency response who is employed at the mine on each shift at each underground mine; and

(bb)

make available two certified mine rescue teams whose members—

(AA)

are familiar with the operations of such coal mine;

(BB)

participate at least annually in mine rescue training at the underground coal mine covered by the mine rescue team; and

(CC)

are available at the mine within one hour ground travel time from the mine rescue station.

(II)
(aa)

For the purpose of complying with subclause (I), an operator shall employ one team that is either an individual mine site mine rescue team or a composite team as provided for in item (bb)(BB).

(bb)

The following options may be used by an operator to comply with the requirements of item (aa):

(AA)

An individual mine-site mine rescue team.

(BB)

A multi-employer composite team that is made up of team members who are knowledgeable about the operations and ventilation of the covered mines and who train on a semi-annual basis at the covered underground coal mine—

(aaa)

which provides coverage for multiple operators that have team members which include at least two active employees from each of the covered mines;

(bbb)

which provides coverage for multiple mines owned by the same operator which members include at least two active employees from each mine; or

(ccc)

which is a State-sponsored mine rescue team comprised of at least two active employees from each of the covered mines.

(CC)

A commercial mine rescue team provided by contract through a third-party vendor or mine rescue team provided by another coal company, if such team—

(aaa)

trains on a quarterly basis at covered underground coal mines;

(bbb)

is knowledgeable about the operations and ventilation of the covered mines; and

(ccc)

is comprised of individuals with a minimum of 3 years underground coal mine experience that shall have occurred within the 10-year period preceding their employment on the contract mine rescue team.

(DD)

A State-sponsored team made up of State employees.

(iv)

That the operator of each underground coal mine with 36 or less employees shall—

(I)

have an employee on each shift who is knowledgeable in mine emergency responses; and

(II)

make available two certified mine rescue teams whose members—

(aa)

are familiar with the operations of such coal mine;

(bb)

participate at least semi-annually in mine rescue training at the underground coal mine covered by the mine rescue team;

(cc)

are available at the mine within one hour ground travel time from the mine rescue station;

(dd)

are knowledgeable about the operations and ventilation of the covered mines; and

(ee)

are comprised of individuals with a minimum of 3 years underground coal mine experience that shall have occurred within the 10-year period preceding their employment on the contract mine rescue team.

.

5.

Prompt incident notification

(a)

In general

Section 103(j) of the Federal Mine Safety and Health Act of 1977 (30 U.S.C. 813(j)) is amended by inserting after the first sentence the following: For purposes of the preceding sentence, the notification required shall be provided by the operator within 15 minutes of the time at which the operator realizes that the death of an individual at the mine, or an injury or entrapment of an individual at the mine which has a reasonable potential to cause death, has occurred..

(b)

Penalty

Section 110(a) of the Federal Mine Safety and Health Act of 1977 (30 U.S.C. 820(a)) is amended—

(1)

by striking The operator and inserting (1) The operator; and

(2)

by adding at the end the following:

(2)

The operator of a coal or other mine who fails to provide timely notification to the Secretary as required under section 103(j) (relating to the 15 minute requirement) shall be assessed a civil penalty by the Secretary of not less than $5,000 and not more than $60,000.

.

6.

National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health

(a)

Research and development

(1)

In general

For purposes of improving the safety and health of miners, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health is authorized to conduct research in and development of technology relating to—

(A)

the improvement of post-disaster mine operations, including an analysis of and recommendations for future practices relating to electrical devices and the hardening of mine monitoring and communications systems;

(B)

the improvement of mine rescue team operations, including communications among mine operators, miners, and mine rescue teams, and the use of robotic technology;

(C)

the development and installation of improved emergency and routine miner tracking systems, including recommended standards for wireless communications in underground mines;

(D)

the development and improvement of self-contained self-rescuers, including docking and hybrid capabilities;

(E)

the development of performance standards, location strategies, and application guidelines for coal mine rescue chambers; and

(F)

the development and demonstration of a rapidly deployable seismic location system to assist in the location of trapped miners, and an analysis of alternative tracking and location systems

(2)

Authorization of Appropriations

There are authorized to be appropriated $14,000,000 for the purpose of carrying out this subsection.

(b)

Office of Mine Safety and Health

Section 22 of the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 (29 U.S.C. 671) is amended by adding at the end the following:

(h)

Office of Mine Safety and Health

(1)

In general

There shall be permanently established within the Institute an Office of Mine Safety and Health which shall be administered by an Associate Director to be appointed by the Director.

(2)

Purpose

The purpose of the Office is to enhance the development of new mine safety technology and technological applications and to expedite the commercial availability and implementation of such technology in mining environments.

(3)

Functions

In addition to all purposes and authorities provided for under this section, the Office of Mine Safety and Health shall be responsible for research, development, and testing of new technologies and equipment designed to enhance mine safety and health. To carry out such functions the Director of the Institute, acting through the Office, shall have the authority to—

(A)

award competitive grants to institutions and private entities to encourage the development and manufacture of mine safety equipment;

(B)

award contracts to educational institutions or private laboratories for the performance of product testing or related work with respect to new mine technology and equipment; and

(C)

establish an interagency working group as provided for in paragraph (5).

(4)

Grant authority

To be eligible to receive a grant under the authority provided for under paragraph (3)(A), an entity or institution shall—

(A)

submit to the Director of the Institute an application at such time, in such manner, and containing such information as the Director may require; and

(B)

include in the application under subparagraph (A), a description of the mine safety equipment to be developed and manufactured under the grant and a description of the reasons that such equipment would otherwise not be developed or manufactured, including reasons relating to the limited potential commercial market for such equipment.

(5)

Interagency working group

(A)

Establishment

The Director of the Institute, in carrying out paragraph (3)(C) shall establish an interagency working group to share technology and technological research and developments that could be utilized to enhance mine safety and accident response.

(B)

Membership

The working group under subparagraph (A) shall be chaired by the Associate Director of the Office who shall appoint the members of the working group, which may include representatives of other Federal agencies or departments as determined appropriate by the Associate Director.

(C)

Duties

The working group under subparagraph (A) shall conduct an evaluation of research conducted by, and the technological developments of, agencies and departments who are represented on the working group that may have applicability to mine safety and accident response and make recommendations to the Director for the further development and eventual implementation of such technology.

(6)

Annual report

Not later than 1 year after the establishment of the Office under this subsection, and annually thereafter, the Director of the Institute shall submit to the Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions of the Senate and the Committee on Education and the Workforce of the House of Representatives a report that, with respect to the year involved, describes the new mine safety technologies and equipment that have been studied, tested, and certified for use, and with respect to those instances of technologies and equipment that have been considered but not yet certified for use, the reasons therefore.

(7)

Authorization of appropriations

There is authorized to be appropriated, such sums as may be necessary to enable the Institute and the Office of Mine Safety and Health to carry out this subsection.

.

7.

Requirement concerning family liaisons

The Secretary of Labor shall establish a policy that—

(1)

requires the temporary assignment of an individual Department of Labor official to be a liaison between the Department and the families of victims of mine tragedies involving multiple deaths;

(2)

requires the Mine Safety and Health Administration to be as responsive as possible to requests from the families of mine accident victims for information relating to mine accidents; and

(3)

requires that in such accidents, that the Mine Safety and Health Administration shall serve as the primary communicator with the operator, miners’ families, the press and the public.

8.

Penalties

(a)

In general

Section 110 of the Federal Mine Safety and Health Act of 1977 (30 U.S.C. 820) is amended—

(1)

in subsection (a)—

(A)

by inserting (1) after the subsection designation and at the end of the subsection: The Secretary may prescribe procedures for the issuance of a notice in lieu of a citation with respect to de minimis violations which have no direct or immediate relationship to safety or health.; and

(B)

by adding at the end the following:

(2)

Any operator who willfully violates a mandatory health or safety standard, or knowingly violates or fails or refuses to comply with any order issued under section 104 and section 107, or any order incorporated in a final decision issued under this title, except an order incorporated in a decision under paragraph (1) or section 105(c), shall, upon conviction, be punished by a fine of not more than $250,000, or by imprisonment for not more than one year, or by both, except that if the conviction is for a violation committed after the first conviction of such operator under this Act, punishment shall be by a fine of not more than $500,000, or by imprisonment for not more than five years, or both.

(3)
(A)

The minimum penalty for any citation or order issued under section 104(d)(1) shall be $2,000.

(B)

The minimum penalty for any order issued under section 104(d)(2) shall be $4,000.

(4)

Nothing in this subsection shall be construed to prevent an operator from obtaining a review, in accordance with section 106, of an order imposing a penalty described in this subsection. If a court, in making such review, sustains the order, the court shall apply at least the minimum penalties required under this subsection.

; and

(2)

by adding at the end of subsection (b) the following: Violations under this section that are deemed to be flagrant may be assessed a civil penalty of not more than $220,000. For purposes of the preceding sentence, the term flagrant with respect to a violation means a reckless or repeated failure to make reasonable efforts to eliminate a known violation of a mandatory health or safety standard that substantially and proximately caused, or reasonably could have been expected to cause, death or serious bodily injury..

(b)

Regulations

Not later than December 30, 2006, the Secretary of Labor shall promulgate final regulations with respect to penalties.

9.

Fine collections

Section 108(a)(1)(A) of the Federal Mine Safety and Health Act of 1977 (30 U.S.C. 818(a)(1)(A)) is amended by inserting before the comma, the following: , or fails or refuses to comply with any order or decision, including a civil penalty assessment order, that is issued under this Act.

10.

Abandoned Mine Areas Seal Study

(a)

In general

The Secretary of Labor shall provide for the conduct of research, including field tests, concerning the sealing of abandoned mine areas, including the materials used in the construction of these seals, the practicality of inertization prior to sealing, and the use of professional engineers in the design of the seals.

(b)

Report

Not later than 18 months after the date of enactment of this Act, the Secretary shall prepare and submit to the Committee on Education and the Workforce of the House of Representatives, and the Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions of the Senate a report detailing the findings of the research under this section. Such report shall include a description of the actions, if any, that the Secretary intends to take based upon the report, including proposing regulatory changes, and the reasons for such actions.

11.

Substance Abuse Testing

Title II of the Federal Mine Safety and Health Act of 1977 is amended by adding at the end the following new section:

207.

Substance abuse testing

(a)

Within 180 days following the enactment of this Act, the Secretary shall promulgate regulations pursuant to section 101(a) to require the operator of each mine to institute a program to conduct mandatory, random substance abuse testing of mine employees. Such regulations shall be no less restrictive than regulations issued by other Federal and States agencies which impose mandatory substance abuse testing and shall include provisions providing for—

(1)

mandatary substance abuse testing procedures;

(2)

a process for the random selection of those employees to be tested;

(3)

the protection of individuals’ rights and privacy;

(4)

the establishment of an Employee Assistance Program; and

(5)

for purposes of subsection (b), a process for mine operators to notify the Administration of the names of individuals who test positive for substance abuse.

(b)

Within 180 days following the enactment of this Act, the Secretary shall promulgate regulations creating a registry of those found to have tested positive for substance abuse for the sole purpose of sharing, on a confidential basis, with State authorities responsible for issuance of licenses, certification, permits, or other documents required to seek employment in the mining industry.

.

12.

Subpoena Authority

Section 103(a) is amended—

(1)

by adding , enforcement of subpoena to the subsection heading; and

(2)

by inserting (1) at the beginning of the subsection and inserting at the end:

(2)

In making inspections and investigations under this chapter the Secretary may require the attendance and testimony of witnesses and the production of evidence under oath. Witnesses shall be paid the same fees and mileage that are paid witnesses in the courts of the United States. In case of a contumacy, failure, or refusal of any person to obey such an order, any district court of the United States or the United States courts of any territory or possession, within the jurisdiction of which such person is found, or resides or transacts business, upon the application by the Secretary, shall have jurisdiction to issue to such person an order requiring such person to appear to produce evidence if, as, and when so ordered, and to give testimony relating to the matter under investigation or in question, and any failure to obey such order of the court may be punished by said court as a contempt thereof.

.

13.

Authorization of belt air course ventilation

Section 303(y) is amended by striking all and replacing with the following: A mine operator may use air from a belt air course to ventilate a working section or an area where mechanized mining equipment is being installed or removed, provided that such use is in compliance with the requirements of section 75.350 of title 30, Code of Federal Regulations, as in effect on the date of enactment of this Act..

14.

Scholarships

Title V of the Federal Mine Safety and Health Act of 1977 (30 U.S.C. 951 et seq.), as amended by section 11, is further amended by adding at the end the following:

515.

Scholarships

(a)

Establishment

The Secretary of Education (referred to in this section as the Secretary), in consultation with the Secretary of Labor and the Secretary of Health and Human Services, shall establish a program to provide scholarships to eligible individuals to increase the skilled workforce for both private sector mine operators and mine safety inspectors and other regulatory personnel for the Mine Safety and Health Administration.

(b)

Fundamental skills scholarships

(1)

In general

Under the program under subsection (a), the Secretary may award scholarship to fully or partially pay the tuition costs of eligible individuals enrolled in 2-year associate's degree programs at community colleges or other colleges and universities that focus on providing the fundamental skills and training that is of immediate use to a beginning miner.

(2)

Skills

The skills described in paragraph (1) shall include basic math, basic health and safety, business principles, management and supervisory skills, skills related to electric circuitry, skills related to heavy equipment operations, and skills related to communications.

(3)

Eligibility

To be eligible to receive a scholarship under this subsection an individual shall—

(A)

have a high school diploma or a GED;

(B)

have at least 2 years experience in full-time employment in mining or mining-related activities;

(C)

submit to the Secretary an application at such time, in such manner, and containing such information; and

(D)

demonstrate an interest in working in the field of mining and performing an internship with the Mine Safety and Health Administration or the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Office of Mine Safety.

(c)

Mine safety inspector scholarships

(1)

In general

Under the program under subsection (a), the Secretary may award scholarship to fully or partially pay the tuition costs of eligible individuals enrolled in undergraduate bachelor's degree programs at accredited colleges or universities that provide the skills needed to become mine safety inspectors.

(2)

Skills

The skills described in paragraph (1) include skills developed through programs leading to a degree in mining engineering, civil engineering, mechanical engineering, electrical engineering, industrial engineering, environmental engineering, industrial hygiene, occupational health and safety, geology, chemistry, or other fields of study related to mine safety and health work.

(3)

Eligibility

To be eligible to receive a scholarship under this subsection an individual shall—

(A)

have a high school diploma or a GED;

(B)

have at least 5 years experience in full-time employment in mining or mining-related activities;

(C)

submit to the Secretary an application at such time, in such manner, and containing such information; and

(D)

agree to be employed for a period of at least 5 years at the Mine Safety and Health Administration or, to repay, on a pro-rated basis, the funds received under this program, plus interest, at a rate established by the Secretary upon the issuance of the scholarship.

(d)

Advanced research scholarships

(1)

In general

Under the program under subsection (a), the Secretary may award scholarships to fully or partially pay the tuition costs of eligible individuals enrolled in undergraduate bachelor's degree, masters degree, and Ph.D. degree programs at accredited colleges or universities that provide the skills needed to augment and advance research in mine safety and to broaden, improve, and expand the universe of candidates for mine safety inspector and other regulatory positions in the Mine Safety and Health Administration.

(2)

Skills

The skills described in paragraph (1) include skills developed through programs leading to a degree in mining engineering, civil engineering, mechanical engineering, electrical engineering, industrial engineering, environmental engineering, industrial hygiene, occupational health and safety, geology, chemistry, or other fields of study related to mine safety and health work.

(3)

Eligibility

To be eligible to receive a scholarship under this subsection an individual shall—

(A)

have a bachelor's degree or equivalent from an accredited 4-year institution;

(B)

have at least 5 years experience in full-time employment in underground mining or mining-related activities; and

(C)

submit to the Secretary an application at such time, in such manner, and containing such information.

(e)

Authorization of appropriations

There are authorized to be appropriated such sums as may be necessary to carry out this section.

.

15.

Research concerning refuge alternatives

(a)

In general

The National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health shall provide for the conduct of research, including field tests, concerning the utility, practicality, survivability, and cost of various refuge alternatives in an underground coal mine environment, including commercially-available portable refuge chambers.

(b)

Report

(1)

In general

Not later than 18 months after the date of enactment of this Act, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health shall prepare and submit to the Secretary of Labor, the Secretary of Health and Human Services, the Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions of the Senate, and the Committee on Education and the Workforce of the House of Representatives a report concerning the results of the research conducted under subsection (a), including any field tests.

(2)

Response by Secretary

Not later than 180 days after the receipt of the report under paragraph (1), the Secretary of Labor shall provide a response to the Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions of the Senate and the Committee on Education and the Workforce of the House of Representatives containing a description of the actions, if any, that the Secretary intends to take based upon the report, including proposing regulatory changes, and the reasons for such actions.

16.

Risk Analysis and Incident Planning Pilot Program

No later than 18 months following the enactment of this Act the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) shall survey international mining practices with respect to incident planning generally, with a particular focus on the risk assessment-based approach undertaken in Australia, and shall compare the same with current regulatory practices within the United States. Upon completion of such study, NIOSH shall develop and publish in the Federal Register protocols for incident planning. These protocols shall address, but not be limited to, the elements that should be included in the incident plan, approaches to redesigning mine practices to prevent an incident, and methods for mine operators should design a response to incidents, and shall be developed specifically for both metal/nonmetal and underground coal operations. Upon publication of these protocols NIOSH may encourage mine operators to undergo a risk assessment and review using the outlined protocols through its ongoing partnerships.

17.

Brookwood-Sago mine safety grants

(a)

In general

The Secretary of Labor shall establish a program to award competitive grants for education and training, to be known as Brookwood-Sago Mine Safety Grants, to carry out the purposes of this section.

(b)

Purposes

It is the purpose of this section, to provide for the funding of education and training programs to better identify, avoid, and prevent unsafe working conditions in and around mines.

(c)

Eligibility

To be eligible to receive a grant under this section, an entity shall—

(1)

be a public or private nonprofit entity; and

(2)

submit to the Secretary of Labor an application at such time, in such manner, and containing such information as the Secretary may require.

(d)

Use of funds

Amounts received under a grant under this section shall be used to establish and implement education and training programs, or to develop training materials for employers and miners, concerning safety and health topics in mines, as determined appropriate by the Mine Safety and Health Administration.

(e)

Awarding of grants

(1)

Annual basis

Grants under this section shall be awarded on an annual basis.

(2)

Special emphasis

In awarding grants under this section, the Secretary of Labor shall give special emphasis to programs and materials that target workers in smaller mines, including training miners and employers about new Mine Safety and Health Administration standards, high risk activities, or hazards identified by such Administration.

(3)

Priority

In awarding grants under this section, the Secretary of Labor shall give priority to the funding of pilot and demonstration projects that the Secretary determines will provide opportunities for broad applicability for mine safety.

(f)

Evaluation

The Secretary of Labor shall use not less than 1 percent of the funds made available to carry out this section in a fiscal year to conduct evaluations of the projects funded under grants under this section.

(g)

Authorization of appropriations

There are authorized to be appropriated for each fiscal year, such sums as may be necessary to carry out this section.

18.

Sense of Congress regarding NIOSH overhead budgeting

It is the sense of Congress that none of the funds authorized under this Act shall be used to fund overhead costs of the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, and that such overhead costs should not exceed $10,000,000 annually in any event.