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MSHA News Release No. 99-0409
Mine Safety and Health Administration
CONTACT: Bennett Gamble
PHONE: 202-219-8211

CONTACT: Amy Louviere/Katharine Snyder
PHONE: 703-235-1452

Released Friday, April 9, 1999

MINER TRAINING RULE PROPOSED

   The Mine Safety and Health Administration has moved one step closer to putting training regulations in place for 120,000 miners at 10,000 surface nonmetal mines across the country.

   A proposed rule establishing training requirements for miners at sand and gravel operations, rock quarries and certain other surface nonmetal mines will be published in the Federal Register on Wednesday (April 14).

   "Congress directed us to finalize these regulations by Sept. 30, and we are well on our way to meeting that deadline," said J. Davitt McAteer, assistant secretary of labor for mine safety and health.

   Last December and January, MSHA held seven public meetings throughout the country to hear comments from the mining community about the prospective training requirements. More than 220 individuals attended these meetings, including representatives from labor, small and large mine operators, state agencies, mining associations, contractors and trainers.

   "The mining community - including the Coalition for Effective Miner Training, representatives from labor unions, small and large mine operators, state agencies, mining associations, contractors and trainers - gave us extensive input in the development of this proposed rule," said McAteer. "Now we are asking for comments on the proposal."

   The Federal Mine Safety and Health Act of 1977 requires that each mine operator have a health and safety training program for its miners. However, MSHA appropriations legislation contains language prohibiting use of appropriated funds to enforce miner training requirements in sand, gravel and surface stone operations. The prohibition, which also covers a few other surface nonmetal operations such as clay mines, has been in place since 1980 but is expected to be lifted once MSHA finalizes the training rules.

   The proposed rule is designed to ensure that miners receive effective training, while at the same time addressing the particular needs of the affected segments of the mining industry. Some key provisions of the proposed rule include:

   MSHA will hold four public hearings to listen to comments from interested parties on the proposed rule. Each hearing will run from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. The dates and locations are as follows:

   Written comments on the proposed rule need to be sent to MSHA by June 16, and may be transmitted by electronic mail, fax or mail. The electronic mail address is zzMSHA-Comments@dol.gov. The fax number is (703) 235-5551. The mailing address is MSHA, Office of Standards, Regulations and Variances, 4015 Wilson Boulevard, Room 631, Arlington, VA 22203-1984.