Final Policy on Examination of Working Places [08/19/96]
Volume 61, Number 161, Page 42787-42788
DEPARTMENT OF LABOR
30 CFR Parts 56 and 57
Final Policy on Examination of Working Places
AGENCY: Mine Safety and Health Administration, Labor.
ACTION: Final rule; policy.
SUMMARY: The Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) is revising its policy concerning the examination of working places at all metal and nonmetal mining operations to clarify operators' obligations under 30 CFR 56.18002 and 57.18002, Examination of Working Places. To ensure that all interested persons are informed of this action, MSHA is publishing the full text of the Program Policy Letter addressing these standards in Appendix I of this notice. This policy letter supersedes MSHA's existing policy regarding enforcement of these standards.
EFFECTIVE DATE: November 18, 1996.
FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:
I. Paperwork Reduction Act
The information collection requirement in Secs. 56.18002 and 57.18002 has been approved by the Office of Management and Budget under control number 1219-0089.
II. Discussion of Final Policy
MSHA's safety standards in Secs. 56.18002 and 57.18002 concerning examination of working places at metal and nonmetal mines were first promulgated as advisory standards in July 1969 and became mandatory in August 1979. MSHA issued Program Policy Letter (PPL) No. P94-IV-5 on December 12, 1994, clarifying its policy concerning these standards. Shortly thereafter, MSHA introduced a new procedure to encourage participation in enforcement policy formulation and withdrew the PPL concerning examination of working places. Subsequently, the PPL was revised and published in the Federal Register (60 FR 9987) on February 22, 1995 and public input was solicited. The Agency also held public meetings on July 6 and 7, 1995, in Cleveland, Ohio; and July 12 and 13, 1995, in Elko, Nevada. MSHA received comments from both labor and industry, and considered these comments in the development of this final policy. The Agency is now publishing the final policy in the Federal Register to ensure that all interested parties are informed. MSHA also will issue this policy as Program Policy Letter No. P96-IV-2 and as an update to the Program Policy Manual, Volume IV, pages 61 and 62. The full text of this Program Policy Letter is published in Appendix I of this notice. This policy letter supersedes MSHA's existing policy regarding enforcement of these standards.
Dated: August 8, 1996.
J. Davitt McAteer,
Appendix I--Program Policy Letter No. P96-IV-2--30 CFR 56.18002 and
Effective Date: November 18, 1996.
Program Policy Letter No. P96-IV-2
From: Vernon R. Gomez,
Subject: 30 CFR 56.18002 and 57.18002--Examination of Working Places.
MSHA intends that the terms "competent person" and "working place," used in Secs. 56/57.18002(a), be interpreted as defined in Secs. 56.2 and 57.2, Definitions. A "competent person," according to Secs. 56.2 and 57.2, is "a person having abilities and experience that fully qualify him to perform the duty to which he is assigned." This definition includes any person who, in the judgment of the operator, is fully qualified to perform the assigned task. MSHA does not require that a competent person be a mine foreman, mine superintendent, or other person associated with mine management.
The phrase "working place" is defined in 30 CFR Secs. 56.2 and 57.2 as: "any place in or about a mine where work is being performed." As used in the standard, the phrase applies to those locations at a mine site where persons work during a shift in the mining or milling processes.
Standards 56/57.18002(b) require operators to keep records of working place examinations. These records must include: (1) the date the examination was made; (2) the examiner's name; and (3) the working places examined. MSHA intends to allow operators considerable flexibility in complying with this provision in order to minimize the paperwork burden.
Records of examinations may be entered on computer data bases or documents already in use, such as production sheets, logs, charts, time cards, or other format that is more convenient for mine operators. In order to comply with the record retention portion of Secs. 56.18002(b) and 57.18002(b), operators must retain workplace examination records for the preceding 12 months. As an alternative to the 12-month retention period, an operator may discard these records after MSHA has completed its next regular inspection of the mine, if the operator also certifies that the examinations have been made for the preceding 12 months. Evidence that a previous shift examination was not conducted or that prompt corrective action was not taken will result in a citation for violation of Secs. 56.18002 and 57.18002 (a) or (c). This evidence may include information which demonstrates that safety or health hazards existed prior to the working shift in which they were found. Although the presence of hazards covered by other standards may indicate a failure to comply with this standard, MSHA does not intend to cite Secs. 56.18002 and 57.18002 automatically when the Agency finds an imminent danger or a violation of another standard.
Issuing Office and Contact Person