Two Proposals Would Modify MSHA Rule on Workplace Examinations in Mines

Published September 20, 2017

Last week, MSHA published two proposed rules that would change the agency’s final rule on examinations of working places in metal and nonmetal mines. The final rule, which was published in January, is intended to improve miners’ safety and health and the quality of these examinations, and requires mine operators to conduct working place examinations before miners begin work in an area. MSHA’s proposed changes would require that examinations of working places be conducted before work begins or as miners begin work. This change would allow miners to enter a working place while the competent person conducts the examination. Mines would be required to include in the examination record descriptions of adverse conditions that are not corrected promptly and the dates of corrective action for the conditions.

“[The proposed changes] would provide mine operators additional flexibility in managing their safety and health programs and reduce regulatory burdens without reducing the protections afforded miners,” MSHA’s press release reads. “The proposed rule would continue to permit mine operators with consecutive shifts or those that operate on a 24-hour, 365-day basis to conduct an examination on the previous shift.”

The final rule was originally set to go into effect on May 23, 2017, but was previously delayed to Oct. 2, 2017, to allow MSHA time to develop and distribute compliance assistance materials to stakeholders.

MSHA’s second proposed rule would further delay the effective date of the final rule to March 2, 2018, to provide the agency additional time to provide training and compliance assistance.

Comments on MSHA’s proposal to amend the final rule on examinations of working places in metal and nonmetal mines are due by Nov. 13. Stakeholders have until Tuesday. Sept. 26, to submit comments regarding the proposed delay of the rule’s effective date.