Noting that 2015 was the safest year ever in the U.S. mining industry, the Mine Safety and Health Administration nonetheless has rolled out a new safety initiative, Rules to Live By (RTLB) IV.
According to the agency, the initiative is designed to enhance MSHA’s efforts at preventing fatalities among miners. Enforcement of RTLB IV will begin on July 1, 2016.
Launched in 2010, MSHA’s RTLB fatality prevention program is intended to focus MSHA inspectors’ and mine operators’ attention on the most commonly cited safety and health standards that historically have caused or contributed to mining fatalities.
RTLB IV highlights two standards that have contributed equally to a total of 12 fatalities over the decade ending 2015, according to the agency. They are a surface coal standard addressing safe lighting, 30 CFR 77.207, and a standard which requires scaling in underground metal/nonmetal operations to be performed from a location that does not put miners at risk of injury from falling materials, 30 CFR 57.3201. A total of 47 standards were prioritized as a result of the three previous RTLB iterations.
The RTLB IV standards are being incorporated into a web-based tool MSHA created last year to help operators comply with the RTLB program. A second web-based tool deals with the exam rule. By entering a mine’s MSHA identification number and a date range, the tools offer a summary of the mine’s compliance with the relevant standards during the period specified. The tools also provide a color-coded comparison between the violation rate per MSHA inspection hour for the mine and the national violation rate average for all mines in its sector (red = above the average, green = below).
Operators may prepare for RTLB IV through MSHA’s web-based training program. Please contact Jackson Lewis attorneys for help preparing for the enforcement push that lies ahead.
In other MSHA news, two proposals from the agency are under White House review. They are MSHA’s proposed rule on examination of working places in metal/nonmetal mines, received on March 12, and a pre-rule initiative regarding exposure of underground miners to diesel exhaust, received on May 13. Finally, MSHA and the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health co-sponsored a public meeting for coal interests at NIOSH’s Pittsburgh Research Center on May 31 on refuge alternatives and voice communications for next-generation escape respirators.