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MSHA reinstates final rule on pre-shift mine examinations

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Washington — The Mine Safety and Health Administration has reinstated a 2017 rule that requires a competent person to inspect the workplace before a shift rather than when miners begin work, in accordance with an Aug. 23 mandate of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.

According to a notice published in the Sept. 30 Federal Register, the measure vacates a 2018 amendment to the rule.

The court on June 11 ruled in favor of petitioners United Mine Workers of America and United Steelworkers and issued the mandate, requiring the action about 10 weeks later.

“Because the 2018 amendment allows miners to work in an area before the examination is completed, there is the likelihood that miners may be exposed to an adverse condition before it is discovered,” the ruling states.

 

According to an MSHA spokesperson, enforcement of the 2017 rule – including issuance of citations – will begin Jan. 1. In the interim, the agency will provide in-person compliance and technical assistance while expecting mine operators to comply with the 2018 amendment. The agency plans to announce additional public stakeholder meetings on the 2017 rule in subsequent issues of the Federal Register, the notice states.

The final rule amending the 2017 provisions endured numerous delays before taking effect June 2, 2018.

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