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Mine Safety Agency Announces Final Rule for Examination of Working Places in Metal, Nonmetal Mines

  • February 8, 2017

Examinations of working places should be conducted before miners begin work in those places and miners should be notified of hazardous conditions found during examinations, the Mine Safety and Health Administration has announced in a final rule amending existing standards to improve the quality of working place examinations in metal and nonmetal mines. The final rule takes effect on May 23, 2017.

The agency said that under the new rule, miners would benefit from “timely and rigorous” working place examinations to prevent injuries and death. Existing standards allow an examination to be conducted at any time during a shift (even at the very end of the shift) and contain no requirement that miners be notified of hazards found during an examination.

According to a fact sheet, the final rule improves safety and health of miners by requiring mine operators to:

  • perform working place examinations that identify hazards before miners begin work in an area;
  • promptly inform affected miners about hazardous conditions that are not corrected immediately;
  • make the examination record before the end of the shift;
  • record the locations examined, the name of the person conducting the examination, the adverse conditions identified, and the date of the corrective action; and
  • make a copy of examination records available to MSHA and miners’ representatives upon request.

The agency estimated the final rule will result in $34.5 million in annual costs for the metal and nonmetals mine industry. The new rule, it said, will “result in benefits” due to “more effective and consistent” workplace examinations that will help to ensure conditions will be “timely identified, communicated to miners, and corrected.”

In a question-and-answer sheet, MSHA said that between January 2010 and mid-December 2015, it recorded 122 miners killed in 110 accidents at metal and nonmetal mines. It said the agency issued citations to mine operators involved in 16 accidents, in which 18 miners were killed. MSHA said it has taken “a common sense approach” with the final rule.

Jackson Lewis attorneys are available to assist employers to achieve compliance with the new rule.

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