When MSHA asked in a request for information (“RFI”) for data, experiences, and ideas on how to reduce “powered haulage” accidents, the implication of many of the RFI questions was that MSHA is looking to push mines to adopt new 21st-century technologies, such as object detection and collision avoidance systems. In response, Husch Blackwell’s Mining Coalition submitted detailed comments last month that outlined programs, strategies, and technologies that operators have found to be successful – and those that haven’t yet worked.
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On October 17, 2018, OIRA published the fall regulatory agenda for MSHA. The major regulatory priority on MSHA’s agenda continues to be an examination of the protections provided to reduce underground miners’ exposure to diesel exhaust and refuge alternatives for underground coal mines. The MSHA/NIOSH Diesel Health Effects Partnership convened its third meeting in July 2018 and attracted 50 stakeholders from across the industry spectrum to chart an effective path for change.

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Summer may now be over, but the debate over how OSHA should regulate worker exposure to heat – indoors and out – may be getting hotter. Over the summer, both the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) and a coalition of private advocacy groups and individuals supported OSHA developing a heat stress standard. While OSHA has offered guidance on protecting workers from overheating and cited companies under the catch-all General Duty Clause, it does not currently have particular heat exposure limits or mandates.

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As the mining industry continues to wait for any new direction at MSHA to reveal itself, last week, MSHA published a request for information (RFI) in the Federal Register that could be the beginning of a new rulemaking on powered haulage equipment. The RFI covers aspects of both surface and underground mines, as well as both coal and metal/non-metal.

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