After industry objections to several provisions of the Examinations of Working Places in Metal and Nonmetal Mines final rule issued by the Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA), the agency has published a final rule that includes changes to the provisions.

The final rule was initially published in January 2017, but some of its provisions were later stayed. The MSHA says the additional amendments will “provide mine operators additional flexibility in managing their safety and health programs and reduce regulatory burdens without reducing the protections afforded miners.”

Paperwork burdens cited

The agency says that in making the changes, it took into consideration stakeholder comments received on the September 12, 2017 notice of proposed rulemaking, and the Trump Administration's initiatives to reduce and control regulatory costs. Some commenters said the January 2017 rule would not increase miners' protections at MNM mines, but would increase mine operators' administrative and paperwork burdens.

“Compared to the January 2017 rule, the examination record will be less burdensome for operators since only those adverse conditions that are not corrected promptly, and dates of corrective actions for those conditions, must be included in the record.”

The effective date for the final rule is June 2, 2018.

Changes to the rule

Among the changes: a competent person must examine each working place at least once each shift before work begins, or as miners begin work in that place, for conditions that may adversely affect safety or health. The rule also requires that the working place examination record include a description of each condition found that may adversely affect the safety or health of miners and is not corrected promptly and requires that when a condition that may adversely affect the safety or health of miners is not corrected promptly, the examination record shall include, or be supplemented to include, the date of the corrective action.

The MSHA estimates that this final rule results in annual cost savings of $27.6 million.

According to the MSHA, effective working place examinations are a fundamental accident prevention tool used by operators of metal and nonmetal (MNM) mines. They allow operators to identify and correct adverse conditions that may affect the safety and health of miners and violations of safety and health standards before they cause injury or death to miners.

Click here to read the entire final rule.