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MSHA Releases 2015 Regulatory Agenda

The U.S. Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) released its fall regulatory agenda Nov. 24. The agency states that it is on track in conducting the rulemaking on reform of civil penalties; comments are due Jan. 9, according to the National Stone, Sand and Gravel Association.

Additionally, the agency reports that in October 2015, it will issue a rulemaking on crystalline silica, based on the work done by sister agency, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. This will address silica’s health effects and risk, as appropriate for the mining industry. Inclusion of this item on the agenda is confusing, as MSHA notably dropped it from its spring regulatory agenda.

Also on the agenda is an April 2015 request for possible approaches that would improve the control of diesel particulate matter and diesel exhaust.

Added to the agenda is a June 2015 request for information on the examination of workplaces to determine the adequacy of the agency’s existing standards. MSHA is also considering whether issuing guidance or disseminating best practices would effectively accomplish the agency’s goal.

Finally, MSHA includes a statement that it will propose a rule concerning proximity detection systems in underground mines in January 2015. The agency asserts that the rule would strengthen protection for underground miners by reducing the potential of pinning, crushing or striking hazards associated with mobile equipment.

MSHA Chief Details Industry Outreach

Assistant Secretary of Labor for Mine Safety and Health (MSHA) Joseph A. Main detailed some of his recent industry outreach activities:

  • In mid-September, I traveled with Metal and Nonmetal Administrator Neal Merrifield to Kansas City, Mo., to meet with Metal and Nonmetal mining industry stakeholders from eight states. I have attended about a half-dozen such meetings in the Midwest organized to improve communications and cooperation between the agency and the mining industry.
  • As part of the two-day meeting, we toured two mines with practices that have helped drive injury and illness rates lower. Rockridge Center Mine, a surface limestone operation employing 15 miners, and the Stamper Underground Mine, a limestone operation with 27 miners owned by Martin Marietta, have had no fatal or lost-time accidents since 2009. Both mines credit training and employee engagement for their success. The Stamper break room has a plaque that reminds all miners of the company's Guardian Angel Creed, which gives them the right and responsibility to stop operations if conditions become dangerous. 
  • Just a week later, I met with the National Lime Association as we signed an Alliance Agreement with Joseph Reilly, president of the association, under which we agreed to continue to work together on education and training to improve the health and safety of those working at lime quarries and plants. 
  • In mid-October, we held our annual TRAM training conference at the National Mine Health and Safety Academy in Beckley, W.Va., drawing more than 300 attendees for seminars and workshops on a variety of training topics and a training materials competition. 
  • On Oct. 23, I attended an executive board meeting of the United Mine Workers of America in Morgantown, W.Va., and updated board members on a number of MSHA initiatives
  • In late October, I addressed by video conference the 10th annual health and safety conference for Metal and Nonmetal mines in the Rocky Mountain and Western states. The conference, held in Reno, Nev., was a gathering of state mining associations, industry leaders, and regional MSHA staff intended to build partnerships and improve understanding of occupational health and safety in the mining industry.
  • On Oct. 30, we were proud to honor the nation's mine rescuers as we observed the second annual National Mine Rescue Day and top MSHA officials and I attended a meeting of the newly-created national Holmes Mine Rescue Association at the Academy in Beckley. 
  • On Oct. 9, I attended the awards ceremony of the National Mine Rescue Skills competition at Ruff Creek, Pa., where 24 teams participated from across the country. 
  • A week later, MSHA Deputy Assistant Secretary Silvey and I addressed the 9th annual Southeastern U.S. Mine Safety and Health Conference in Birmingham, Ala. The successful gathering, with about 670 participants, has grown over the years to include an increasing representation of coal as well as metal and nonmetal operations, and this year attracted a record number of mine safety and health professionals from throughout the southeastern U.S. It was a great opportunity for all to share ideas about improving mine safety and health.