MSHA workplace examination final rule delayed until October

The Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) announced a delay to their final rule on examining safety conditions of metal and nonmetal mines.

The final rule was initially published last January and was scheduled to go into effect on May 23, 2017. In March, the agency announced that they were delaying implementation until July 24, 2017. That date has once again been pushed back. Now, the rule is currently scheduled to go into effect on October 2, 2017.

There are a couple of reasons why this rule has been pushed back again. The delay will give the agency time to develop and distribute compliance training documents. After reviewing these training materials, miners should be able revise their operations as needed to be compliant with the new regulations.

Additionally, there also legal challenges to the new rule that need to be resolved. Currently, the rule is being challenged in the Eleventh Court of Appeals. The results of that case could have a big impact on the fate of the new rule.

If implemented in its current form, the rule has five primary elements that operators need to adhere to:

  • Examination of the mine must be completed before any miners begin working at the site
  • Workers must be notified about any unsafe conditions that may negatively affect their safety or health
  • If there are any safety or health hazards, the operator must promptly begin to take appropriate steps to fix those issues
  • A record of the examination must be made
  • The record of the examination must be available for the Secretary of Labor and the miners’ representatives upon request

The examination record must include:

  • The name of the person who conducted the examination
  • A list of the areas of the mine that were examined
  • The date the examination occurred
  • Descriptions of any conditions that could negatively impact workers’ health or safety

Failure to comply with the rule could result in a fine, prison time or both.

This is an important rule, and it’s something operators need to be aware of as we approach the October 2nd effective date. As the mining industry continues to evolve, operators need to be aware of how these changes could impact their mine.

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