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December 7, 2012
In Reply Refer To:
3400, 3500, 3600, 3800 (320) P
Information Bulletin No. 2013-025
To:                  All State Directors
                       Attn:  Solid Minerals Program Leads
From:              Assistant Director, Minerals and Realty Management
Subject:          Safety Alert – Exposure to Hazardous Gas at Underground and Surface
On October 12, 2012, a Bureau of Land Management (BLM) mine inspector was performing Production Verification (PV) at an underground longwall mine. The mine was known to be outgassing hydrogen sulfide (H2S), a deadly poisonous and flammable gas that can cause long term adverse health effects, even at low concentrations. The miners running the longwall were wearing respirators with H2S filters; however, neither the inspector nor the accompanying mine representative were similarly equipped. The mine representative had an H2S detector with an audible alarm which sounded at 10 parts per million (ppm). The alarm was ignored in order to finish the PV measurements. They did not leave the mine face until the inspector was no longer able to smell the H2S and was experiencing throat pain.
H2s is a deadly gas. Upon hearing the H2S alarm, the inspector should have immediately left the mine face for a safe area with a breathable atmosphere, preferably the surface well away from this deadly threat. 
The completion of a work assignment is never worth endangering the life of anyone. All BLM personnel inspecting mining operations must respect all safety alarms and warnings. All BLM personnel must vacate the area so mine personnel can act to resolve the hazard or hazardous gas conditions triggering the alarm or warning. 
The purpose of this Information Bulletin (IB) is to alert BLM employees to be aware of hazards or hazardous gases.  The U.S. Department of Labor, Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) requires mining officials accompanying BLM employees underground  to carry gas monitors to determine hazardous gas levels or oxygen deficiencies. When encountering hazardous gases levels (MSHA regulated 8-hour threshold level values or minimum permitted levels), BLM employees must immediately leave the affected area with the company representative and must not re-enter the area until ventilation or the operator completes other modifications to correct the hazardous condition.

The mine operator must provide BLM hazard and hazardous gas safety training. The mine operator must provide self-rescuers and escape respirators to BLM personnel inspecting operations where the operator has detected hazardous gases.  

The BLM mine inspector must consult with MSHA when duties require him/her to inspect mines containing hazardous gases. All BLM personnel must report any hazards to the mine operator and MSHA District Manager.  This includes the location and magnitude of hazardous gases that may impact the health and safety of mine employees.

Please provide all BLM personnel who enter mines copies of this IB. 

For more information on MSHA, including a list of contacts, visit their website at http://www.msha.gov/.  If you have any questions concerning the content of this IB, please contact me at 202-208-4201, or your staff may contact the Solid Minerals Division (WO-320) Division Chief Mitchell Leverette, 202-912-7113, email address mleveret@blm.gov; Vince Vogt, 202-912- 7125, email address vvogt@blm.gov; or John Lewis, 202-912-7117, email address j35lewis@blm.gov.
Signed by:                                                                    Authenticated by:
Michael Nedd                                                                Robert M. Williams
Assistant Director                                                         Division of IRM Governance,WO-560
Minerals and Realty Management

Last updated: 12-21-2012