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Volume 61, Number 17, Page 2215-2216

DEPARTMENT OF LABOR
Mine Safety and Health Administration

30 CFR. Part 48

Training Policy Review

AGENCY : Mine Safety and Health Administration, Labor.

ACTION : Notice; request for comments.

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SUMMARY: The Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) is considering revising and clarifying, as needed, policy relating to the training and retraining of miners. The policy interprets the existing training regulations pertaining to coal and metal and nonmetal mines. The purpose of this review is to improve existing policy and reduce administrative procedures. MSHA is requesting public input before proceeding.

DATES: Submit all comments by March 25, 1996.

ADDRESSES: Send written comments to Frank R. Schwamberger, Acting Director, Educational Policy and Development, MSHA, 4015 Wilson Boulevard, Room 531, Arlington, VA 22203-1984.

Commenters are encouraged to submit comments on a computer disk along with a hardcopy.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Thomas W. MacLeod or Joseph M. Hoffman, Division of Policy and Program Coordination, Directorate of Educational Policy and Development, 703-235-1400.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

I. Background

MSHA's regulations addressing the training and retraining of miners are contained in Title 30 of the Code of Federal Regulations (30 CFR) part 48. Over the past 2 years, MSHA has held a series of meetings with various segments of the mining community (states, academia, management, labor, and associations) to discuss the impact of MSHA's training regulations on the mining community.
During these meetings, participants made numerous suggestions for improving miner training, expanding and improving communication between MSHA and the mining industry, and exchanging information about safety and health issues. In these open forums, participants also suggested ways MSHA and the mining community could work together to improve the quality of training. MSHA has already implemented, or begun working on, several non-regulatory, non-policy related projects. For example, the Agency has updated the database that contains MSHA-approved instructors so that the records will reflect the existing active instructors. This updated database will make it easier for MSHA to send information on training-related subjects to instructors who are actively conducting health and safety training.
During these meetings, the Agency also received suggestions about revising MSHA's current training policy. To respond further to these comments, MSHA is now soliciting comments from the public on training policy in the following general areas: (a) administrative reporting requirements; (b) flexibility in course content and time for each subject; (c) crediting like work experience for training purposes; (d) independent contractor training; (e) completing and signing training certificates (Form 5000-23); and (f) other items of interest.

II. Discussion

A. Administrative Reporting Requirements

Under 30 CFR 48.3 and 48.23, the mine operator is required to submit to the district manager specific items of information as part of a training plan. This includes the list of MSHA-approved instructors with whom the operator proposes to make arrangements to teach the courses and the courses each instructor is qualified to teach. Whenever this list changes, the operator goes through the process of revising and submitting the revisions to MSHA.
Other items required in a training plan include: location where training will be given, description of the teaching methods, predicted time or periods of time when regularly scheduled refresher training will be given, list of task assignments, and titles of personnel conducting the training. While recognizing the importance of notification of plan revisions to miners and their representatives, the Agency is considering a policy interpretation in which operators may not have to notify MSHA of certain revisions in order to retain plan approval. Also, MSHA is considering the possibility of allowing operators to submit plan changes electronically.

B. Flexibility in Course Content and Time for Each Subject

MSHA is considering ways to increase flexibility within the present regulatory language. For example, a mine operator is required to submit to the district manager the titles of courses to be taught, the total number of instruction hours for each course, and the predicted time and length of each session of training. MSHA is considering revising the training operators to specify a range of times for each course (such as 30 minutes to 1 hour for electrical hazards) which could vary based on the needs at a particular mine. Although there currently is flexibility in the regulations and policy, based on input received at recent meetings with the mining community, this flexibility is not widely understood.

C. Crediting Like Work Experience for Training Purposes

Currently shaft and slope and construction workers are not required to take part 48 training in most instances. Following current policy, if a worker performs shaft and slope work for 12 months or more within 36 months and is then contracted to perform extraction and production work, the worker would not receive credit toward establishing experienced miner status for time already worked. MSHA is reviewing the possibility of allowing these workers to receive credit toward establishing the 12 months of mining experience required to maintain experienced miner status.

Another issue MSHA is considering is experienced miner credit for like work experience for a person from a non-mining environment. This would allow such a person working on mine property to be considered experienced for training purposes. A related issue is how the operator would document the existence of like work experience.

D. Independent Contractor Training

Current policy allows independent contractors to have their own training plan or use the mine operator's plan. Contractors can also conduct their own training, be trained by the operator, or use approved cooperative or state programs. MSHA is considering different language to make it easier for independent contractors and operators to determine what type of training (new miner, newly-employed experienced miner, or hazard) is required for independent contractors.

E. Completing and Signing Training Certificates (Form 5000-23)

MSHA is considering clarifying the legal responsibility of the person certifying that training is completed and who may sign the form and when. MSHA is also interested in comments on how computerized versions of Form 5000-23 can best be utilized within the existing regulatory framework.

III. Request for Comments

This notice covers the main points raised at the various public meetings. During the comment period, anyone may submit comments or suggestions related to any aspect of part 48 policy.

Dated: January 16, 1996.
J. Davitt McAteer,
Assistant Secretary for Mine Safety and Health.

[FR Doc. 96-1079 Filed 1-24-96; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 4510-43-P
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