MSHA issues guidance to miners and operators in wake of coronavirus

The Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) has released an information sheet to provide practices for operators and miners to minimise the spread of coronavirus.

What should mine operators and miners do?

Avoid close contact: Put distance between yourself and other people (about 6 feet). This includes not crowding personnel carriers, hoists and elevators, or other means of transportation at the mine.
Clean and disinfect: Wipe down equipment and other frequently touched surfaces.

Wash hands: If soap and water are not readily available, use a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol. Cover all surfaces of your hands and rub them together until they feel dry. Avoid touching your face, nose, eyes, etc.

Stay at home if you are sick.

See additional guidance on the CDC’s Prevention page.

What actions is MSHA taking?

MSHA is abiding by the President’s Coronavirus Guidelines for America, which are based on the CDC Interim Guidance for Risk Assessment and Public Health Management of Persons with Potential Coronavirus Disease 2019.

MSHA will continue to perform its essential functions, including mandatory inspections, serious accident investigations, and investigations of hazard complaints (imminent danger or serious in nature).

For the pendency of the President’s national emergency declaration, MSHA has suspended Educational Field and Small Mine Services visits, as well as special safety and fatality initiatives that normally would gather groups of miners on-site to discuss powered haulage, electrocution, and contractor safety.

To the extent feasible, inspectors are maintaining distance from miners while performing inspections.

The Mine Safety and Health Administration will work with mine operators when it comes to the following recertifications:

– Annual refresher training certification (30 CFR Part 46)

– Surface and underground annual refresher training certification (30 CFR Part 48)

– Certified person; sampling (30 CFR §§ 70/71/90.202)

– Certified person; maintenance and calibration (30 CFR §§ 70/71/90.203)

Exemptions to recertifications will not be granted; however, their due dates will be extended by at least the time the government is operating under the President’s emergency declaration.
The MSHA says this exception does not apply to new miner training. New miners must be trained before beginning work. Once the Emergency Declaration is lifted, mine operators should work with their respective district offices to ensure that all certifications are conducted in a timely manner.

MSHA supports operators’ efforts to minimize the spread of the Coronavirus/COVID-19, including screenings or questionnaires, and will encourage our inspectors to participate on a voluntary basis.

MSHA is following all protocols for identifying MSHA inspectors or other employees exhibiting symptoms or who have had potential exposure, asking them to quarantine at home, and cleaning the relevant offices following CDC guidelines.

MSHA recognizes that some mining operations are not running at full capacity and have limited crews working. If a mine operator alerts MSHA to changes in production at a site, MSHA will, to the extent possible, limit the number of inspectors sent to that mine for a regular inspection proportional with the mine’s continuing operations.

More information is available on the website.

 

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