The Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) held its quarterly stakeholder teleconference on April 25, 2017. The call served three purposes: (1) It provided an update to the timeline of the agency’s final Examinations of Working Places in Metal and Nonmetal Mines rule, amending 30 C.F.R. Sections 56.18002 (surface) and 57.18002 (underground). (2) It discussed several recent fatalities and injuries suffered by miners working alone and suggested best practices for avoidance of known hazards in this context. (3) It reviewed first quarter serious injuries and fatalities in both the coal and metal/nonmetal sectors.
1. Metal and Non-Metal Workplace Examination Rule
MSHA reiterated that the March 27, 2017, proposed Examinations of Working Places in Metal and Nonmetal Mines rule is intended to extend the effective date of the rule to July 24, 2017. The agency stated its intentions to reassure the regulated community that no enforcement will take place until after the final rule goes into effect. Additionally, MSHA vowed to offer outreach and compliance assistance seminars before enforcement of the new rule begins.
2. Working Alone
MSHA personnel also presented PowerPoint slides that reviewed first quarter fatalities and serious injuries and highlighted ways to prevent fatalities and injuries to miners who work alone. The agency indicated that hazards associated with working alone have resulted in a recent increase in fatalities. Starting May 1, 2017, MSHA plans to begin a “Working Alone Initiative” in which inspectors and trainers will focus on known hazards involving miners working alone.