Many of air packs were stored in the emergency caches required under a federal law passed after Sago.
Mine operators are supposed to supply at least two hours of emergency air per miner and stash more air packs in escapeways. No miner should have to walk more than 30 minutes to reach one, and they are to be available in regular intervals the whole way to the surface.
Scrutiny of both industry and regulators has increased since Sago, the report says more must be done. The Upper Big Branch mine explosion, which killed 29 West Virginia miners in April 2010, is "a reminder to remain ever vigilant."
Although the laws are now stronger and the industry has spent nearly $1 billion on emergency preparations since 2006, the report says there's little research to indicate how well mine operators have complied with the new regulations or whether they've been effective.
The industry and NIOSH must work to promote safety "as a core value of the industry," the report said, and that includes compiling existing research and recommendations from other high-hazard industries to help identify strengths and weaknesses.
The committee also recommended more research on effective, science-based materials, training and procedures to help miners make better decisions in crisis.
It suggests comprehensive self-escape scenarios be played out at every underground mine at least once a year, and that the lessons learned from those drills be collected and analyzed. It recommends the creation of a public database that could help anyone who's interested examine the outcomes.
NIOSH should also work with MSHA to ensure any new training is effective, and that miners retain what they learn.