On September 12, 2017, the Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) published two proposed rules seeking to further amend the Examinations of Working Places in Metal and Nonmetal Mines final rule which was published on January 23, 2017.  The rule was scheduled to go into effect on May 23, 2017 but MSHA has delayed the effective date several times.

Under the first proposed rule, MSHA sought to further delay the effective date of the final rule to March 2, 2018.  On October 5, 2017, MSHA issued a final rule staying the effective date to June 2, 2018.  MSHA believes that this extension will offer additional time for the Agency to provide stakeholders training and compliance assistance.

Under the second proposal, MSHA seeks to modify the rule to require a competent person to 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.  MSHA’s proposed change would allow miners to enter a working place at the same time that the competent person conducts the examination.  The examination record would still be required to include descriptions of adverse conditions that are not corrected promptly and the dates of corrective action for these conditions.

This proposed rule would continue to permit mine operators with consecutive shifts or those that operate on a 24-hour, 365-day basis to conduct an examination on the previous shift.  MSHA is not making any changes to miner notification or corrective action requirements and is not changing the record retention requirements or the record availability requirements included in the original rule.

MSHA believes these proposed changes will still be as protective as the existing rules while reducing the regulatory burden on mine operators and offering additional flexibility for compliance.  MSHA has scheduled four public hearings on this proposed rule and will accept comments to the proposal through November 13, 2017.