A. The operator or his agent shall establish eight-hour intervals of time subject to required pre-shift examinations. Within three hours preceding the beginning of any such eight-hour interval during which any person is scheduled to work or travel underground, mine foremen shall make a pre-shift examination. No person scheduled to enter the mine during the eight-hour interval other than the mine foremen conducting the examination may enter any underground area unless a pre-shift examination has been completed for such established eight-hour interval.
B. During the pre-shift examination, the mine foreman shall (i) examine for hazardous conditions, (ii) test for methane and oxygen deficiency with a suitable permissible device, and (iii) determine whether the air is traveling in its regular course and in sufficient volume in each split, at the following locations which are underground:
3. Working sections and areas where mechanized mining equipment is being installed or removed, if anyone is being scheduled to work on the section or in the area during the oncoming shift. This includes working places, approaches to worked-out areas, and ventilation controls on these sections or in these areas;
6. Entries and rooms driven more than 20 feet off an intake air course without a crosscut and without permanent ventilation controls, or more than two crosscuts off an intake air course without permanent ventilation controls where intake air passes through or by these entries or rooms to a working section where anyone is scheduled to work during the oncoming shift; and
1. In the last open crosscut, which means the crosscut in the line of pillars containing the permanent stoppings that separate the intake air courses and the return air courses, of each set of entries or rooms on each working section and areas where mechanized mining equipment is being installed or removed;
2. On each longwall or shortwall in the intake entry or entries at the intake end of the longwall or shortwall face immediately outby the face and the velocity of air at each end of the face at the locations specified in the approved ventilation plan required by the federal mine safety law; and
3. At the intake end of any pillar line (i) if a single split of air is used, in the intake entry furthest from the return air course, immediately outby the first open crosscut outby the line of pillars being mined, or (ii) if a split system is used, in the intake entries of each split immediately inby the split point.
D. A mine foreman shall make a pre-shift examination of surface areas of underground coal mines in accordance with the requirements for pre-shift examinations at surface coal mines as provided in § 45.1-161.256.
F. Any area of the mine where hazardous conditions are found shall be posted with a conspicuous danger sign where anyone entering the area would pass. Only persons designated by the operator, or his agent, to correct or evaluate the condition may enter this posted area.
G. At each working place examined, the mine foreman shall certify by initials, date, and time, that the examination was made. In areas to be examined outby a working section, the mine foreman shall certify by initials, date, and time at enough locations to show that the entire area has been examined.
H. Idle and worked-out areas underground shall be inspected for gas and other hazardous conditions by a mine foreman, immediately before miners are permitted to enter or work in such places. A certified person shall supervise the correction of conditions that create an imminent danger. The mine operator, or his agent, may pass beyond the danger signal only in cases of necessity.
I. Where persons have not been working underground before an established eight-hour interval, no person other than the mine foremen conducting a pre-shift examination may enter the mine until the examination has been completed and the mine foremen report the mine to be clear of danger; however, miners may enter under the direction of a mine foreman for the purpose of making the mine safe. The Chief shall have the authority in certain mines, in his discretion, to authorize man-trips to proceed to a designated station underground, from which they may not pass until the mine foremen report the remainder of the areas of the mine to be clear of danger.
L. Areas of inactive underground coal mines shall be examined for gas and other hazardous conditions by a mine foreman immediately before miners are permitted to enter such areas to take emergency actions to preserve a mine.
Code 1950, §§ 45-32, 45-33, 45-60.4, 45-68.1, 45-69.7; 1954, c. 191; 1966, c. 594, §§ 45.1-20, 45.1-65; 1978, c. 120; 1982, c. 385; 1994, c. 28; 1996, c. 774; 2005, c. 3.