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Secretary of Labor Thomas E. Perez

US Department of Labor: Spring Regulatory Agenda 2010

The Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA)

Topic: MSHA’S Proposed Rule o Pre-Shift Examinations of Work Areas in Underground Coal Mines for Violations of Mandatory Safety or Health Standards

Introduction

  • Section 303(d) of the Federal Mine Safety and Health Act (Mine Act) requires mine operators to conduct pre-shift examinations in areas where miners work or travel for violations of mandatory health or safety standards. This section was previously covered by regulation. MSHA will develop a proposed rule to re-address this regulatory requirement.

Background

In the ever-changing mine environment, it is critical that hazardous conditions be recognized and abated quickly. Operator pre-shift examinations for hazards and violations of mandatory health or safety standards are mandated in the Mine Act and are a critical component of an effective safety and health program for underground mines. While this requirement was previously included in regulations, the 1992 final rule addressing ventilation in underground coal mines only included the requirement that the pre-shift examiner look for hazards. The 1992 rule omitted from the regulation text taken from the Mine Act requiring examination for violations of mandatory safety or health standards. The re-institution of this practice should result in reduced risk of injury, death, and illness and should lead to fewer citations for safety and health violations during MSHA compliance inspections of underground mines.

Key Features of the Proposed Rule

  • Specifically addresses the intent of section 303(d) of the Mine Act.
  • Ensures that the pre-shift examinations include all violations of the mandatory health or safety standards, which could present hazards to underground coal miners.

Benefits

  • The proposal would provide an additional measure of health and safety protection for miners.
  • The proposal would complement the request for information to address Safety and Health Management Programs for Mines (RIN 1219-AB71).
  • The proposal assures that underground coal mine operators find and fix all hazards including violations of health or safety standards.