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April 8, 2008

In Reply Refer To:
1112, 8380 (WO-250, HR-240) P
Instruction Memorandum No. 2008-105
Expires:  03/01/2009
To:                   All Field Officials
From:               Assistant Director, Renewable Resources and Planning
Subject:           Bureau of Land Management Cave Safety Standards
Program Areas: Cave and Karst Resources Management, Recreation, Cultural Resources, Wildlife, Safety and Health for Field Operations.
Purpose:  This Instruction Memorandum (IM) reissues the cave safety standards for Bureau of Land Management (BLM) employees. These standards were originally released in IM 2005-095-Change 1 and this IM allows IM 2005-095 - Change 1 to expire. These cave safety standards consist of cave safety guidelines, search and rescue procedures, and a Risk Assessment Check List and Risk Management Worksheet (Attachment 1).
Policy/Action:  The BLM as a matter of law and policy is concerned with the health and safety of its employees and the public. Because of the special risks associated with entering caves, a safety orientation (based on the guidelines and risk assessment in Attachment 1) is required for all BLM employees who enter caves as a part of their duties. Each affected employee must become familiar with and follow the Cave Safety Standards described in this Attachment. The safety orientation requirement is also cross-referenced in the BLM Manual/Handbook 1112-2, Health and Safety for Field Operations, Chapter 27. This IM applies only to caves and specifically excludes abandoned mines. 
Each affected employee will be given a copy of the Safety Guidelines and Risk Assessment Check List (RA). Risks identified in individual caves should be assessed according to risk level (Low, Medium, High, or Extremely High) and approved at the appropriate approving authority level using BLM Form 1112-5 - Risk Management Worksheet.
Each office managing caves resources must also develop cave search and rescue procedures, and include them within their Search and Rescue Plan, Cave Management Plans, Emergency Response Plan, or other appropriate document. Affected offices should contact local caving organizations and jointly develop a list of safety concerns for BLM caves. 
Timeframe:  This policy is effective upon issuance.
Budget Impact:  None
Background:  The Federal Cave Resources Protection Act of 1988 requires federal agencies to manage and protect cave resources located on the public lands. The BLM implements its management responsibilities for significant caves through the regulations in 43 CFR Part 37 Cave Management. Cave and karst management responsibilities include consideration for employee and public health and safety while in a cave.
Manual/Handbook Sections Affected:  BLM Manual/Handbook 1112-2, Health and Safety for Field Operations, Chapter 27.
Coordination:  This IM has been coordinated among the following Washington Office Divisions: Recreation and Visitor Services (WO-250); Safety and Occupational Health (WO 740); Cultural, Paleontological Resources and Tribal Consultation (WO-240); and Fish, Wildlife and Plant Conservation (WO-230).
Contacts: Questions concerning these cave safety procedures may be addressed to Jim Goodbar, National Cave and Karst Management Coordinator, Division of Recreation and Visitor Services, (505) 234-5929.
Signed by:                                                                    Authenticated by:
Edwin L. Roberson                                                       Robert M. Williams
Assistant Director                                                         Division of IRM Governance,WO-560
Renewable Resources and Planning
1 Attachment

Last updated: 10-21-2009