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MSHA's Merrifield to Retire

Neal Merrifield, Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) metal/nonmetal administrator, will retire from the administration Oct. 29, 2016, according to Joseph A. Main, assistant secretary of labor, MSHA. Main made the announcement during an MSHA stakeholder meeting on Oct. 4 and said that Merrifield will be succeeded on an interim basis by Kevin Stricklin, MSHA’s coal administrator. He said that the change stands as an opportunity for “cross-pollination” within the agency.

Merrifield announced his impending retirement at the National Stone, Sand and Gravel Association (NSSGA) Safety and Health Committee Meeting last month, though he was unaware of any plans for his successor at that time.

“We hope that MSHA moves quickly to find an administrator for the metal/nonmetal sector who knows of our operators’ demonstrated commitment to safety and compliance,” said Joseph Casper, NSSGA’s vice president of safety.

During the meeting, MSHA officials also reminded operators to use the Rules to Live By (RTLB) calculator to evaluate their safety performance. The 19 Rules to Live By were first created in 2010 to boost enforcement of commonly cited standards with increased penalties. The calculator shows an operation’s performance on the 19 standards relative to the industry average for compliance with those standards. Any facility found to be over the industry average for violations of an RTLB standard is subject to an MSHA impact inspection.