MSHA Proposing New Safety Rule

The Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) is proposing to amend the Agency’s standards for the examination of working places in metal and nonmetal (MNM) mines.

From January 2010 through mid-December 2015, 122 miners died at metal and nonmetal mines. More than 60 percent of those deaths were linked to the “Rules to Live By” standards, violations of which are known to most frequently cause mining deaths. Sixty miners have died just since October 2013.

The purpose of this proposed rule is to ensure that mine operators identify and correct conditions that may adversely affect miners’ safety or health. MSHA is proposing to require that an examination of the working place be conducted before miners begin work in an area and that the operator notifies miners in the working place of any conditions found that may adversely affect their safety or health.

MSHA is also proposing that the competent person conducting the examination sign and date the examination record before the end of each shift, that the record includes information regarding adverse conditions found and corrective actions taken, and that operators make such records available to miners and their representatives.

Under MSHA’s existing standards, a working place examination can be conducted at any time during the shift.  The existing standards also do not address the contents of the examination record, do not require mine 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 proposal would enhance the quality of working place examinations in MNM mines and help assure that violations of mandatory health or safety standards are identified and corrected, thereby improving protections for miners.

Safety and health in America’s mining industry made significant strides during the 20th century and over the last 37 years in particular.  In 1978, the first year the Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) operated under the new Federal Mine Safety and Health Act of 1977, 242 miners died in mining accidents.  MSHA continues to work to reduce injuries, illnesses and death through strong enforcement as well as active outreach, education and training, and technical support to the mining industry.

Each year, dozens of people are injured or killed in recreational accidents at abandoned quarries, mines and pits. With summer here, MSHA is alerting the public to the dangers of entering abandoned mine properties. Through the Stay Out – Stay Alive campaign, MSHA and its partners visit schools, communities and youth organizations around the country to educate children, adults and communities at large about the hidden hazards that await the unsuspecting hiker, off-roader or swimmer.