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MSHA to Amend Examinations of Working Places Rule


On Sept. 12, 2017, the Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) published two proposed rules in the Federal Register to amend the agency’s Examinations of Working Places in Metal and Nonmetal Mines final rule (82 FR 7680). Both proposed rules will be available for viewing on Sept. 11, 2017, at 8:45 a.m. at the Office of the Federal Register, Public Inspection Desk.

The first proposed rule would make limited changes to the agency’s final rule. These proposed changes seek to provide mine operators additional flexibility in managing their safety and health programs and reduce regulatory burdens without reducing protections afforded miners.

MSHA is holding four public hearings on the proposal: Oct. 24 in Arlington, Va.; Oct. 26 in Salt Lake City; Oct. 31 in Birmingham, Ala.; and Nov. 2 in Pittsburgh. Comments on the proposed changes to the final rule must be received by midnight (EST) on Nov. 13, 2017.

The second proposed rule would further delay the effective date of the final rule to ensure that the mining community can be provided the training and compliance assistance needed before the final rule becomes effective. Comments on the proposed extension must be received by midnight (EDT) on Sept. 26, 2017. 

According to Rock Products' legal columnists from Husch-Blackwell, MSHA also seems to leave open the possibility that it would use this extension time to consider additional substantive changes to the rule, even beyond the changes it proposes this week. MSHA said that the additional time would permit more time for MSHA to address issues raised by stakeholders during quarterly training calls and stakeholder meetings and compliance assistance visits.

"While noting that in its second proposal today, it is seeking comment on a proposed rule that may address some of these issues, with the additional extension," Husch-Blackwell wrote, “MSHA is considering concerns raised by stakeholders on certain provisions in the rule and how best to address them. MSHA intends to collaborate with and seek input from stakeholders regarding these issues.”