Mines Regulations 2014
Minor amendments are required to the Mines Regulations 2014 (MR2014) to transpose European Directive (EU) 2017/2398. This changes occupational exposure limit values (OELVs) for certain hazardous substances which may be found in the workplace and includes a new binding limit for exposure to respirable crystalline silica (RCS) of 0.1mg/m3. As a result, on 2 March 2020, the Mines Regulations 2014 were amended by the Carcinogens and Mutagens (Miscellaneous Amendments) Regulations 2020 to remove the disapplication of the workplace exposure limit (WEL) for RCS below ground in coal mines (regulation 44) meaning that the higher limit of 0.3mg/m3 no longer applies below ground in coal mines. We have also removed all references to RCS in regulations 2 and 45 to simplify the regulatory framework by avoiding duplication. Regulation 10 of COSHH requires that exposure to hazardous substances 'is monitored in accordance with a suitable procedure', which may include appropriate arrangements for sampling RCS. This will ensure the safety standards in relation to limiting the exposure to RCS are maintained. The proposed removal of this disapplication of the RCS WEL does not reduce existing health and safety standards, indeed it enhances the protections of coal miners' health.
The Mines Regulation 2014 (MR14) came into force on 6 April 2015.
MR14 is the result of a major review of health and safety mining legislation by HSE involving significant input from the mining sector. One of the key aims of the review has been to remove the unnecessary regulatory burden on business through clarification and simplification.
MR14 replaces all previous mine specific health and safety legislation, and brings together the requirements of health and safety related mining law into a single set of regulations based around major hazards within the underground mining sector. It is supported by comprehensive guidance (L149). The Approved Codes of Practice (ACOPs) listed below have been withdrawn and are no longer available. The ACOP covering first aid at mines (L43) remains in force.
- L128 - The use of electricity in mines
- COP28 - Safety of exit from mines underground workings
- L42 - Shafts and winding in mines
- L45 - Explosives at coal and other safety-lamp mines
- L46 - The prevention of inrushes in mines
- L71 - Escape and rescue from mines
- L119 - The control of ground movement in mines
- L145 - Control of inhalable dust in coal mines
- L44 - The management and administration of safety and health in mines
- MR14 contains goal-setting requirements that focus on the control of the risks from major hazards in mines rather than the prescriptive requirements previously in place.
- The principal dutyholder is now the mine operator, not the mine manager.
- Duplication of requirements is removed – general health and safety regulations apply where they adequately cover hazards dealt with by previous mines legislation.
- There is no longer a requirement for coal mines to participate in an approved mines rescue scheme, although there are clear requirements on all mine operators to maintain suitable rescue provision.
- Competence is a clear requirement for all people working in a mine. HSE approval of qualifications and the requirement for certain post-holders in coal mines to possess a certificate of attestation of qualification has been removed.
Changes to the Electricity at Work Regulations 1989
MR14 makes changes to the Electricity at Work Regulations 1989 (EAWR) by removing the mine specific provisions in regulations 17 – 28 and Schedule 1 of EAWR. Equivalent protection is afforded by the remaining provisions of EAWR, alongside the provisions in, for example the Dangerous Substances and Explosive Atmospheres Regulations 2002 (DSEAR) and the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998 (PUWER).
New guidance to help mine operators, engineers and technicians to control the major hazards associated with the use of electricity in mines is now available - Electrical safety in mines – (HSG278)