Following industry comments, MSHA will formally announce on Monday that its workplace examinations final rule will not take effect until October 2, 2017.
The rule, which vastly expands requirements for conducting, documenting, and following up on workplace examinations on every shift, originally was to take effect on Tuesday, May 23rd. In response to industry concerns, MSHA issued a proposed rule to delay the effective date until July and sought public comments on the delay.
In this pre-publication version of a Federal Register notice that MSHA will publish on Monday, MSHA says that it has decided to delay the rule’s effective date until October 2nd. In adopting this longer delay, MSHA cites public comments that most mines are small and will require significant additional time to arrange systems and operations to comply with the rule’s new requirements. In addition, MSHA says that it intends to roll out significant training and compliance assistance in the interim.
Delay, but full steam ahead?
Everything about MSHA’s new notice carefully assumes that while the rule might be delayed, it will ultimately come into effect. Some commenters had suggested that MSHA should delay the rule until a pending court challenge is resolved or until new administration leadership can review it. However, MSHA said that it “is not addressing these comments, as they are beyond the scope of this rulemaking.”
For more background on the rule, its requirements, and implications for mine operators, please see our previous analysis.