- Published: Friday, July 08, 2016 04:32 PM
A measure to bring safer conditions to coal mines in Illinois was signed into law Friday. The legislation, Senate Bill 2813, was an initiative of State Senator Gary Forby (D-Benton).
Forby, a long-time proponent of the coal industry, said that this measure is aimed at making Illinois a more competitive market for the coal industry by updating safety regulations.
“Keeping workers safe on the job is one of the most important things we can do,” said Forby. “I have been around the coal industry my whole life and know how dangerous coal mines can be. If we want to keep the coal industry alive in Southern Illinois, we need to make sure our mines are safe.”
The bill amends the Coal Mining Act by adjusting regulations on mine safety and health to bring Illinois into parity with federal regulations set by the Mine Safety Act and Health Administration.
The law contains a number of updates to the safety regulations including:
- Requires coal mine examination to take place within three hours prior to the beginning of a shift
- If examiner finds more than one percent methane in the air, the examiner would be required to examine each seal before workers are allowed in the mine
- Requires examination only in areas where a person is scheduled to work or travel under ground
- Requires an examiner to inspect escape ways each day
- Allows examiner to file reports by transmitting the results of the examination to the surface to store them in a computer
- Allows an examiner to use a multi-gas detector rather than a flame safety lamp to test for gasses
Allows for telephone service or equivalent two-way communications, including text messages to be used to allow miners who become trapped inside a mine to better communicate their status to emergency services
The bill was signed by governor Bruce Rauner and goes into effect on January 1.