Mine Safety and Health Administration Publishes Final Rule on Workplace Examinations

30 CFR § 56/57.18002

April 2018

On April 9, 2018, the Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) published its final Workplace Examination rule (the “Final Rule”).  The Final Rule is the culmination of MSHA’s nearly two-year effort to revise workplace examination requirements that were first established in 1979. The Final Rule is set to become effective on June 2, 2018.

The new Rule, which will be effective June 2, provides as follows:

     (a)  A competent person designated by the operator shall 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.

     (1)  the operator shall promptly notify miners in any affected areas of any conditions found that may adversely affect safety or health and promptly initiate appropriate action to correct such conditions.

     (2)  Conditions noted by the person conducting the examination that may present an imminent danger shall be brought to the immediate attention of the operator who shall withdraw all persons from the area affected (except persons referred to in section 104(c) of the Federal Mine Safety and health Act of 1977) until the danger is abated.

     (b)  A record of each examination shall be made before the end of the shift for which the examination was conducted.  The record shall contain the name of the person conducting the examination; date of the examination; location of all areas examined; and description of each condition found that may adversely affect the safety or health of miners and is not corrected promptly.

     (c)  When a condition that may adversely affect safety or health is not corrected promptly, the examination record shall include, or be supplemented to include, the date of the corrective action.

     (d)  The operator shall maintain the examination records for at least one year, make the records available for inspection by authorized representatives of the Secretary and the representatives of miners, and provide these representatives a copy on request.

(30 CFR § 56/57.18002 [effective June 2, 2018].)

The Final Rule reflects MSHA’s focus on ensuring that (1) a competent person (i.e., a person fully qualified to conduct the workplace examination; (2) conducts an examination of all workplaces (any and all places where miners will be performing work during a given shift); (3) before or as miners are entering those workplaces so that any adverse conditions are identified before miners are potentially exposed to the conditions; and (4) that identified adverse conditions are communicated to miners, promptly corrected and/or miners are prohibited from entering the workplace. 

 The below table compares the current and new rules:

 

Existing Standards

Final Standards

Who conducts the working place exam

Competent persons designated by the mine operator

No change

When to conduct working place exam for conditions that may adversely affect safety or health

At least once each shift

At least once each shift before work begins or as miners begin work in the working place

Notification to miners

Not Required

Promptly notify miners in any affected areas of any conditions found that may adversely affect safety or health that are not corrected before miners are potentially exposed

Corrective action for adverse conditions

Promptly initiate appropriate action to correct such conditions

No change

Conditions that present an imminent danger

Notify operator immediately and withdraw all persons in affected areas until danger abated

No change

When to make exam record

No time specified

Before the end of the shift

Contents of exam record

Record that exam was made

Name of person conducting exam; date; locations of areas examined; description of each adverse condition that is not corrected promptly; date of corrective action for each adverse condition that is not corrected promptly

Record retention

1 year

No change

Record availability

Available for review by MSHA

Available for inspection by MSHA and miners’ representatives; provide a copy upon request

(Source: MSHA, Examinations of Working Places in Metal and Nonmetal Mines.)

 To summarize, the Final Rule contains the following new requirements compared to the existing rule:

  1. Workplace examinations must be performed at least once each shift before work begins or as miners begin work.
  2. The operator must notify miners in any areas affected by adverse conditions that are not corrected before miners are potentially exposed.
  3. The exam record must be prepared before the end of the shift for which the exam was conducted.
  4. The operator must keep, for one year, a detailed record of each workplace exam that includes the (1) name of the person conducting the exam; (2) the locations of areas examined; (3) and identify all adverse conditions that were not corrected promptly, and the date those conditions were corrected.

Exam records may take the form of a checklist, electronic record, or other format, so long as each record contains all information required by the Final Rule.  MSHA’s guidance emphasizes content over form in this regard. 

 For more information on the final rule visit MSHA’s webpage at:

https://www.msha.gov/regulations/rulemaking/examinations-working-places-metal-and-nonmetal-mines.

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