MSHA Proposes Major Changes to Workplace Exams Rule

MSHA announced major changes to its Workplace Examinations Rule today. The agency is proposing an extension of the effective date from Oct. 2, 2017 to March 2, 2018, and to allow the exams to be occur “before work begins, or as miners begin work in that place.” MSHA said that the effective date extension is needed to produce materials to assist with compliance and reach out to stakeholders. Read more in the Federal Register documents below.

“NSSGA and aggregates operations have consistently raised concerns with the previous Workplace Examination Rule, and it appears that MSHA is willing to listen to the industry,” said Laura O’Neill-Kaumo, NSSGA senior vice president of government and regulatory affairs.

The previous Workplace Examinations Rule proposal mandated that workplace exams be conducted before the start of work, and small operators have estimated it could cost $25 million annually to comply. Additionally, the agency reduced the number of items required for inclusion in the rule’s documentation section. While the earlier rule called for documentation of all hazards and their abatements, the revised rule calls for documentation only of hazards not abated promptly – with “promptly” being defined as “before miners are potentially exposed to adverse conditions.”    

Comments on the proposed extension are due to the agency by Sept. 26, and written comments to the newly-proposed rule are due to MSHA by Nov. 13. MSHA will also hold stakeholder meetings for additional comments. As always, NSSGA will develop formal comments for MSHA on the effective date extension and rule. These comments may be helpful for member to use when speaking at the following Fall stakeholder meetings:

  • Tuesday, Oct. 24 in Arlington, Va.
  • Thursday, Oct. 26 in Salt Lake City, Utah
  • Tuesday, Oct. 31 in Birmingham, Ala.
  • Thursday, Nov.2 in Pittsburgh, Penn.

Please contact Joseph Casper at 703-526-1074 or with any questions.

Join a Conference Call on the Changes to the Workplace Examinations Rule

While these proposed changes appear to be steps in the right direction, NSSGA will thoroughly analyze the proposal and seek member comments. Join NSSGA’s Health and Safety Subcommittee conference call on Wednesday, Sept. 13 at 3 p.m., Eastern, to discuss the new proposal by dialing (866) 814-9555 or 730-719-7075. NSSGA encourages all members to participate.

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