On January 23, the Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) issued its Final Rule for Examinations of Working Places in Metal and Nonmetal Mines. The final rule amends the existing workplace examinations standard and contains significant and highly burdensome requirements for mine operators. Since its publication in the Federal Register, questions have arisen as to when the Final Rule will become effective due to a recent White House memorandum.

On January 20, the new White House Chief of Staff, Reince Priebus, issued a memorandum for the heads of executive departments and agencies titled “Regulatory Freeze Pending Review.” The memorandum directs that, depending on their status in the review and promulgation process, new regulations that are not yet in effect shall be held in abeyance pending further review within the administration. The memorandum includes an exception for rules concerning “urgent circumstances relating to health [and] safety.” Given this exception and the workplace examination final rule’s January 23 publication date, it is unclear whether the workplace examination final rule is subject to the 60-day extension on effective date that is ordered by the memorandum. If the final rule is subject to the extension, the effective date for the final rule would move from May 23 to July 23, 2017.

MSHA has indicated that the agency is reviewing the matter. In the meantime, the May 23 effective date remains official.