At an Aug. 7 stakeholder meeting in Arlington, Va., the U.S. Mine Safety and Health Administration’s Metal/Non-metal Health Chief Reg Richards announced that a program policy letter should be issued the week of Aug. 12 that will spell
out ways in which MSHA will accept compliance with the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s new hazard communication standard. Richards asserted that MSHA is looking to treat as compliant all facilities adhering to the OSHA hazcom changes spawned by Global Harmonization. Also, training materials for inspectors will be shared with stakeholders. (NOTE: NSSGA will host a webinar on compliance with the new OSHA hazcom standard on Sept. 17.)
Later, MSHA’s Metal/Non-metal Administrator Neal Merrifield discussed mine identification issues for operations at which a surface facility is owned by the same operator who owns an underground mine at the same property. For future agency work to properly identify such operations (thus affecting whether those facilities would become subject to Part 48 training requirements and four mandatory inspections a year), the agency has decided to rely on Part 41 of the coal Program Policy Manual, which more clearly (than metal/non-metal section) articulates whether such facilities should see a consolidation in mine identification numbers. Merrifield stressed the belief that consolidations should take place only for joint facilities at which all operations are using one source of material, versus joint facilities at which there may be five or more sources of material. Merrifield went on to say that future decisions should be made on a case-by-case basis, and speculated that the number of affected operations seeing a consolidation in mine identification numbers should be under a dozen.
MSHA announced its intent to continue looking at standards warranting clarification for boosted compliance. Such topics to be addressed in the near future are ladder safety and housekeeping issues. NSSGA will welcome input from members on ways in which MSHA can clarify what is needed to demonstrate compliance.
Richards also spoke briefly about diesel particulate. He stated his pride in the idea that most operators are complying well with the reduced permissible exposure limit of 160 micrograms (compared to the limit of 400 micrograms earlier), and said that the agency wants to do more to boost compliance among the relative few bad actors in this area. Direct comments to Joseph Casper at (703) 526-1074 /email@example.com
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