The proposed rule would strengthen and improve MSHA’s standards for metal and nonmetal working place examinations by requiring that:

  • A competent person examine the working place before miners begin work in that location.
  • Mine operators promptly notify miners of any conditions that may adversely affect their safety or health.
  • A competent person sign and date the examination record before the end of each shift. The examination record must include a description of locations examined, conditions found and corrective actions taken.
  • Records must be made available for inspection by MSHA and miners’ representatives, and operators must provide a copy of the records upon request.

“We believe that many of these fatalities could have been prevented with better working place examinations,” said Joseph A. Main, assistant secretary of labor for mine safety and health. “MSHA has proactively provided notices to the mining industry on the need to improve mine site examinations, but now the time has come to require better, more effective examinations.”

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.

MSHA will hold four public hearings on its proposed rule in the summer of 2016 on July 19 in Salt Lake City; July 21 in Pittsburgh; July 26 in Arlington, Virginia; and Aug. 4 in Birmingham, Alabama.