On March 27, 2017, the Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) issued a proposed rule to delay the effective date for its Final Rule on Examinations of Working Places in Metal and Nonmetal Mines from May 23, 2017, to July 24, 2017. The May 23 effective date of the final rule will remain in place until MSHA’s proposed rule becomes final.

The final rule created much concern within the mining community since MSHA published it in the Federal Register on January 23, 2017, because it significantly changes the existing workplace examination standard and imposes new obligations that may prove to be highly burdensome for many operations. MSHA acknowledged in the proposed rule that operators will need sufficient time to amend their workplace examination policies and train employees on the new rule. To assist with this process, MSHA has indicated that it will provide compliance assistance materials on its website and at stakeholder meetings.

MSHA is requesting comments on whether to extend the effective date of the final rule to July 24, 2017, and is specifically seeking insight on whether the extension offers an appropriate length of time for mine operators to modify their procedures and whether more time is necessary for training and compliance assistance. The deadline to submit comments is April 26, 2017.