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MSHA amends final rule on pre-shift mine examinations, schedules public meetings

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Arlington, VA — The Mine Safety and Health Administration has published a final rule on pre-shift examinations of metal and non-metal mines.

The final rule, set to go into effect on June 2, amends provisions included in the original rule published in 2017 regarding the timing and recordkeeping of mine examinations. The amendments:

  • A competent person may inspect the workplace either before the shift or as miners begin work. The previous final rule allowed examinations each shift only before workers arrived.
  • Miners must be promptly notified if dangerous conditions are found and not corrected before potentially being exposed to the danger. Notifying the miners of adverse conditions was not required in the previous final rule.
  • Exam records must be made before the end of each shift. In the previous rule, no time was specified for exam records to be made.
  • The previous final rule stated that exam records include only that the exam was conducted. The new final rule specifies that exam records must contain the examiner’s name, the date, the locations of areas examined, a description of adverse conditions that are not corrected promptly, and the date of corrective action for each adverse condition not corrected promptly.
  • Exam records will be made available for inspection by MSHA and miners’ representatives and provided upon request. The previous final rule specified only that the records be available for MSHA.

“These additional amendments provide mine operators additional flexibility in managing their safety and health programs and reduces regulatory burdens without reducing the protections afforded miners,” MSHA states in a notice published in the April 9 Federal Register.

The final rule was scheduled to go into effect March 2 after numerous delays. However, MSHA agreed with public commenters who “maintained that, since substantive changes to the January 2017 final rule were proposed at the same time” as the most recent delay, “it is imprudent to establish any effective date until an amended final rule is promulgated and the substance of the rule is known.”

MSHA also has scheduled six public meetings on the final rule:

  • May 1 in Bloomington, IL
  • May 15 in Birmingham, AL
  • May 17 in Pittsburgh
  • May 22 in Reno, NV
  • May 24 in Dallas
  • May 31 in Denver

The meetings are intended to “inform and educate the mining community” on the rule’s requirements, the notice states.

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