Yesterday we attended one of the last MSHA Stakeholders Meetings regarding the new Metal/Nonmetal workplace exam rule. In case you were unable to attend any of the meetings, the PowerPoint presented at the sessions can be found here. The Inspector training and Frequently Asked Questions document prepared by the agency are also available on the MSHA website.

The new rule requires that mine operators:

  • Designate a competent person to examine each working place at least once each shift before work begins or as miners begin work in that place, for conditions that may adversely affect safety or health;
  • Promptly initiate corrective action when adverse conditions are found;
  • Promptly notify miners in affected areas if adverse conditions are found and not corrected before miners are potentially exposed;
  • Withdraw all persons from affected areas when alerted to any conditions that may present an imminent danger, until the danger is abated;
  • Make a working place examination record before the end of the shift for which the examination was conducted.

During the meeting yesterday Don Vickers from MSHA clarified that if a hazard can be corrected before the end of the same shift it is discovered, then you do not have to record the adverse action in the record. Mr. Vickers also clarified that notifications of the hazards can be verbal, warning signs and/or barricades. Mines need to be sure any barrier clearly communicates the hazard.

Importantly, MSHA representatives stated that citations under the new regulation would not be written until after September 20, 2018. We encourage you to use this grace period to work with your local field office and talk with them about your compliance plan.

As MSHA’s leadership has traveled the country in recent months, one area of concern they raised repeatedly was powered haulage accidents. Now, the agency is focusing more attention on this “priority issue” with its upcoming quarterly stakeholder call.

Continue Reading MSHA Apr. 30th stakeholder call to focus on powered haulage – a “priority issue”

15 months after it first published a rule dramatically changing how workplace examinations will be done on every shift at every metal/non-metal mine, MSHA today published a final amended version of that rule. Despite a litigation challenge and widespread concerns raised by stakeholders, the final rule maintains many of the same provisions as originally introduced. The new rule takes effect June 2, 2018.

Continue Reading This is it: MSHA publishes final workplace exam rule with few changes.

Our next webinar “rewind” brings us to a recent presentation on whistleblower strategies. Whistleblower complaints filed under the Occupational Safety and Health Act and the Mine Safety and Health Act are on the rise nationwide. How should you handle disgruntled employees to minimize risk?

Continue Reading On-demand webinar: How to handle whistleblowers and disgruntled employees

Today the House Subcommittee on Health, Employment, Labor, and Pension and the Subcommittee on Workforce Protections held a joint hearing on how the opioid epidemic is affecting workplaces and communities. Members heard about how employers are impacted by the epidemic and how they are addressing opioid misuse via workplace drug testing. Witnesses discussed how employers are using Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs) that provide confidential assistance with drug abuse problems. A recent survey by the National Safety Council reported that 70 percent of all U.S. companies and 90 percent of Fortune 500 companies have an EAP to assist employees struggling with substance abuse and other problems.

“We must understand that the federal government must not act as a barrier or tie the hands of employers when it comes to addressing opioid abuse in the workplace,” said Rep. Tim Walberg. “Rather, we should fortify employers’ efforts to help their employees and family members, who are affected by this epidemic.”

Rep. Bradley Byrne added, “Employers are recognizing the risks that opioid abuse has on the workplace, and it is reassuring to hear that businesses large and small are taking steps to address this problem in their organizations.”

It remains unclear how or if OSHA and MSHA will directly address the opioid epidemic.

Husch Blackwell partners Brian Hendrix and Stephen Cockerham presented a related webinar recently: “Creating Safe, Drug-free Workplaces That Comply With OSHA’s Latest Guidance.” You can view the webinar on demand by clicking here.