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MSHA releases final rule on examinations in metal, non-metal mines

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Arlington, VA – The Mine Safety and Health Administration has issued a final rule intended to improve pre-shift examinations of metal and non-metal mines.

The rule, which is scheduled to go into effect on May 23, includes the following requirements:

  • A competent person must examine the jobsite before miners start work.
  • Mine operators must quickly notify miners of conditions that could harm their safety or health.
  • A competent person must sign and date the examination record before the end of every shift. The examination record should include a description of the locations examined, conditions found and, if applicable, the corrective actions that were taken.
  • Records must be available for inspection by MSHA and miners’ representatives.

“MSHA has taken a common sense approach with this rule,” MSHA administrator Joseph A. Main said in Jan. 17 press release. “Effective examinations will improve working conditions and practices in the nation’s mines, ultimately preventing accidents and injuries. The additional required communication – notifying miners of hazardous conditions – will encourage prompt corrective action and save lives. Miners deserve nothing less.”

From January 2010 to mid-December 2015, 122 miners died in 110 incidents at metal and non-metal mines, according to MSHA data. In 16 of the cases, MSHA cited the mine operator for unwarrantable failure to comply with the Federal Mine Safety and Health Act of 1977.

“Unwarrantable failure violations involve serious conditions of which the mine operator was aware or should have been aware,” Main said in the release. “Had the individual conducting the examination recorded these adverse conditions, mine operators would have taken prompt correct action, which would have protected miners from serious injury.”

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