MSHA proposes burdensome workplace exams rule

Additional compliance burdens will be placed on aggregates operators as a result of MSHA’s proposed rule on workplace exams, says the National Stone, Sand and Gravel Association.

The proposed rule on workplace exams, unveiled June 7 during a stakeholder meeting at the agency’s headquarters, requires that a competent person sign and date an examination record that includes descriptions of locations and conditions that may have adverse effects worker safety or health – and corrective actions taken – by the end of each shift.

These records must be available for inspection and operators will have to provide copies of the records upon request.

Prior to work beginning in an area, a competent person would be required to examine it and operators should then promptly notify miners of conditions that pose safety and health concerns and promptly initiate appropriate corrections.

“NSSGA has long been concerned that overly-strict workplace exam standards put excessive burdens on operators without any clear benefit to employee safety and health. Complying with this standard could in fact impede an operation’s ability to manage for safety,” said Pam Whitted, senior vice president of government and regulatory affairs, National Stone, Sand and Gravel Association.

“We have seen in recent years that safety improvements focused on improving behaviors of workers are more effective at reducing injuries than ones focused on workplace conditions. NSSGA will analyze this rule and provide comments to MSHA on the affects this will have on the industry.”

In the interests of facilitating a persuasive industry-wide response to the MSHA proposal before the Sept. 6 deadline, NSSGA will share comments drafted by the Safety and Health subcommittee with all members in time for them to submit additional comments to MSHA from their companies.

Additionally, MSHA issued a request for information for a possible future rulemaking on diesel exhaust in underground mines. NSSGA will work with operators of underground facilities to develop suitable comments to send to MSHA.

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