DEPARTMENT OF LABOR
Mine Safety and Health Administration

30 CFR Part 75

RIN 1219-AA11

Safety Standards for Underground Coal Mine Ventilation

AGENCY: Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA), Labor.

ACTION: Final rule; conforming rule to Court's order.

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SUMMARY: MSHA published safety standards for the ventilation of underground coal mines on March 11, 1996, which became effective on June 10, 1996. The National Mining Association (NMA) and the United Mine Workers of America (UMWA) challenged the rule. On June 17, 1997, the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit (D.C. Circuit) issued an order granting the petition for review relating to the 8-hour interval requirement for preshift examinations pursuant to 30 CFR 75.360(a)(1) (1996). The Court further denied the petition for review on all other issues and upheld the Agency's rulemaking. This document provides notice of, and effectuates, the Court's order.

DATES: Effective June 30, 1997.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Patricia W. Silvey, Director, Office of Standards, Regulations, and Variances, MSHA, phone 703/235-1910; fax 703/235-5551.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: On May 15, 1992, MSHA published a final rule (57 FR 20868) revising its safety standards for ventilation of underground coal mines. The American Mining Congress and the National Coal Association [predecessors to NMA] and the UMWA challenged the 1992 rule in the D.C. Circuit. The D.C. Circuit stayed the application of 30 CFR 75.321(a) (oxygen in bleeder entries), and MSHA voluntarily stayed 30 CFR 75.313 (main mine fan stoppage with persons underground) and 75.344(a)(1) (compressors located in noncombustible structure or area). The remaining provisions became effective on November 16, 1992, or as otherwise provided in the rule.

MSHA agreed to further review the 1992 rule and to propose revisions. With the consent of the parties, the D.C. Circuit stayed the proceedings pending the Agency's review. On May 19, 1994, MSHA published a proposed rule (59 FR 26536) revising certain provisions of the 1992 rule.

On March 11, 1996, MSHA published a final rule (61 FR 9764). On June 7, 1996, the D.C. Circuit issued an order staying the application of 30 CFR 75.313(d)(2) (stopping of withdrawal of persons upon fan restart) and 75.321(a)(2) (oxygen in bleeder entries). All other requirements of the final rule, including the remaining provisions of 75.313 (main mine fan stoppage with persons underground) and 75.344(a)(1) (compressor enclosed or continuously attended), became effective on June 10, 1996, or as otherwise provided in the rule.

On June 17, 1997, the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, in National Mining Association v. Mine Safety and Health Administration and Secretary of Labor (MSHA), D.C. Cir. No. 92-1288 and consolidated cases, issued an order granting the petition for review on NMA's challenge to Sec. 75.360 relating to preshift examinations.

Except as provided in paragraph (a)(2) of this section, a certified person designated by the operator shall make a preshift examination within 3 hours preceding the beginning of any 8-hour interval during which any person is scheduled to work or travel underground. The operator shall establish the 8-hour intervals of time subject to the required preshift examinations. No person other than certified examiners may enter or remain in any underground area unless a preshift examination has been completed for the established 8-hour period. Within 3 hours preceding the beginning of any shift and before anyone on the oncoming shift, other than certified persons conducting examinations required by this subpart, enters any underground area of the mine, a certified person designated by the operator shall make a preshift examination.

The operative difference between the two provisions was the substitution of the phrase ``8-hour interval [or] period'' in Sec. 75.360(a)(1) (1996) for the phrase ``beginning of any shift'' in previous Sec. 75.360(a). In compliance with the Court's order, paragraph (a) of previous Sec. 75.360, with minor modifications, is now in effect as new paragraph (a)(1).

List of Subjects in 30 CFR Part 75

Mine safety and health, Underground coal mines, Ventilation.

Dated: June 19, 1997.
J. Davitt McAteer,
Assistant Secretary for Mine Safety and Health.

Accordingly, part 75, subchapter O, chapter I, title 30 of the Code of Federal Regulations is amended as follows:

PART 75--[AMENDED]

1. The authority citation for part 75 continues to read as follows:

Authority: 30 U.S.C. 811.

2. Section 75.360, paragraph (a)(1), is revised to read as follows:

Sec. 75.360 Preshift examination.

(a)(1) Except as provided in paragraph (a)(2) of this section, a certified person designated by the operator shall make a preshift examination within 3 hours preceding the beginning of any shift during which any person is scheduled to work or travel underground. No person other than certified examiners

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may enter or remain in any underground area unless a preshift examination has been completed for the shift.
* * * * * [FR Doc. 97-16963 Filed 6-27-97; 8:45 am]
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