In June, MSHA issued a proposed rule that would require metal and nonmetal mine operators (1) to conduct an exam of the working place before miners begin work in an area, (2) to inform miners in the work place of any conditions that may impact their safety or health, and (3) to have the competent person that conducts the exam document, sign and date the exam, its findings and corrective actions at the end of each shift.

Currently, operators are required to conduct workplace examinations at least once each shift and maintain examination records for one year.

MSHA held public hearings and public comments on the proposed rule were accepted until September 30, 2016. Some commenters raised concerns that such a rule would only serve as additional enforcement actions and citations against mine operators and such revisions were unnecessary. Other commenters raised issues related to the benefits and costs of the proposed rule and how the proposed rule would reduce injuries and fatalities.  Some commenters requested MSHA to clarify the definition of “working place” and the timing of the examination, specifically that the exams should occur at the beginning of work in the work area as opposed to beginning at the start of each shift.

Supporters of the rule, including the United Mine Workers of America, noted “the current federal law is nowhere near stringent enough to adequately protect miners….”

MSHA is currently reviewing the comments submitted.