The U.S. Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) announced this week that it is extending the effective date of the agency’s final rule on Examinations of Working Places in Metal and Nonmetal (MNM) Mines until October 2. The agency said the extension will allow additional time for it to provide training and compliance assistance for its stakeholders.

On January 23, MSHA published a final rule in the Federal Register amending the agency’s standards for the examination of working places in metal and nonmetal mines. The original effective date of the rule was May 23. Under the existing standards, mine operators can perform the workplace examination anytime during the shift, which could expose miners to adverse conditions during the shift before corrective action is taken.

In addition, the existing standards do not address the contents of the examination record, do not require operators to promptly notify miners when adverse conditions are found, and do not require operators to make the examination records available to miners’ representatives.

The proposed rule would require that a competent person conduct an examination of the working place before miners begin work there (any place in or about a mine where work is being performed); mine operators promptly notify miners of any conditions that may adversely affect their safety or health that are not corrected immediately; the examination record be made before the end of the shift; the examination record include the name of the person conducting the examination, date and locations of the examination, a description of the adverse conditions found, and the date of corrective actions taken for adverse conditions found; and examination records are made available to MSHA and miners’ representatives, and a copy provided upon request.

MSHA received a lot of feedback about this final rule. For example, it does not require that the competent person conducting the working place examination sign the record. Instead, the record must include only the name of the competent person who conducted the exam. In addition, the final rule does not require that the examination record contain a description of the corrective action taken or the name of the person making the record of the corrective action, only the date of the corrective action is required.

Both rules require at least one working place examination for each shift. The final rule also retains the existing requirement that conditions noted during the examination that may present an imminent danger be brought to the attention of the mine operator. In addition, like the existing rule, the final rule requires a record of the examination, that these records be maintained for one year, and that the records be made available to MSHA.

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