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MSHA News Release No. 95-010
Mine Safety and Health Administration
Contact: (703) 235-1452

February 15, 1995

MSHA SEEKS MORE INPUT FROM MINERS ON SAFETY AND HEALTH MATTERS

The Labor Department's Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) today announced a new procedure to gain increased input from working miners on the requirements of existing safety and health regulations for protecting them on the job.

"I have been directing the federal mine safety and health program for a year and I firmly believe more than ever that the key to an effective program is the active participation of the miner in applying safety and health regulations," said J. Davitt McAteer, assistant secretary of labor for mine safety and health. "We need to have a higher level of input from those who work in the mines, those who operate the machinery and do the examinations, so that policies we put into effect really give the worker increased understanding and protection."

MSHA announced that policy letters, which are distributed to further explain or interpret existing regulations, will be published in draft form for a 45-day period in order to receive comments from miners and others in the mining community. This process will be employed for policy letters with a significant impact in the workplace. Once comments are gathered and considered, the policy statements will be issued as final.

"The nation's coal and other minerals are not mined inside the beltway," added McAteer. "We can do a better job of governing, and we can do a better job of serving the miners by being more open and receptive to their views on matters that relate directly to them, particularly their safety and health."

As the need arises to issue draft policy statements on safety and health rules, MSHA will announce and conduct informational briefings in mining communities throughout the nation. The briefings will be held in coal mining communities for any policy letters affecting coal miners and in metal and nonmetal mining communities for any issues pertaining to that industry. Participants will be briefed on the content of the policy and asked to submit written comments.

In addition, MSHA will send the draft policy statements to all affected mining operations as well other mining industry groups to solicit input. The agency will also use local mining community newspapers to announce new policy letters and inform interested parties of the location and time of scheduled briefings on the policy.

"The process is new and we are sure there will be fine- tuning to perfect it," continued McAteer.

MSHA is launching the new procedure immediately. The agency is withdrawing MSHA Program Policy Letters P94-IV-2 on first aid training for selected supervisors; P94-IV-4, regarding mine ventilation plans; and P94-IV-5 on examination of working places. These policy letters will be reviewed and re-issued under the new procedure.

Notice of the new policy and the withdrawal of these three program policy letters will appear in the Federal Register.