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[Federal Register: February 6, 1997 (Volume 62, Number 25)]
[Proposed Rules]
[Page 5554-5555]

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DEPARTMENT OF LABOR

Mine Safety and Health Administration

30 CFR Parts 56, 57, 62, 70, and 71

RIN 1219-AA53

Health Standards for Occupational Noise Exposure

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

ACTION: Proposed rule; extension of comment period and notice of hearings.

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SUMMARY: MSHA is extending the period for public comment regarding the Agency's proposed rule for occupational noise exposure, which was published in the Federal Register on December 17, 1996. The Agency also is announcing that it intends to hold public hearings. These hearings will be held under section 101 of the Federal Mine Safety and Health Act of 1977. The rulemaking record will remain open until June 16, 1997.

DATES: Comments must be received on or before April 21, 1997. All requests to make oral presentations for the record should be submitted at least 5 days prior to each hearing date. However, you do not have to give a written request to be provided an opportunity to speak. The public hearings are scheduled to be held at the following locations on the dates indicated:

May 6, 1997-Beaver, West Virginia (Beckley)
May 8, 1997-St. Louis, Missouri
May 13, 1997-Denver, Colorado
May 15, 1997-Las Vegas, Nevada
May 20, 1997-Atlanta, Georgia
May 22, 1997-Washington, DC

Each hearing will last from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., but will continue into the evening if necessary.

The record will remain open after the hearings until June 16, 1997.

ADDRESSES: Comments on the proposed rule may be transmitted by electronic mail, fax, or mail. Comments by electronic mail must be clearly identified as such and sent to this e-mail address: zzMSHA-Comments@dol.gov. Comments by fax must be clearly identified as such and sent to: MSHA, Office of Standards, Regulations, and Variances, 703- 235-5551. Send mail comments to: MSHA, Office of Standards, Regulations, and Variances, Room 631, 4015 Wilson Boulevard, Arlington, VA 22203-1984, or any MSHA district or field office. The Agency will have copies of the proposal available for review by the mining public at each district and field office location, and each technical support center. The document will also be available for loan to interested members of the public on an as needed basis. MSHA will also accept written comments from the mining public in the field and district offices and technical support centers. These comments will be a part of the official rulemaking record. Interested persons are encouraged to supplement written comments with computer files or disks; please contact the Agency with any questions about format.

Send requests to make oral presentations to: MSHA, Office of Standards, Regulations, and Variances, Room 631, 4015 Wilson Boulevard, Arlington, VA 22203-1984.

The hearings will be held at the following locations:

May 6, 1997, National Mine Health & Safety Academy, Auditorium, 1301 Airport Road, Beaver, West Virginia (Beckley) 25813.

May 8, 1997, Harley Hotel, North Ballroom, 3400 Rider Trail South, St. Louis, Missouri 63134.

May 13, 1997, Four Points Sheraton Hotel, Mount Evans Room, 3535 Quebec Street, Denver, Colorado 80207.

May 15, 1997, Quality Inn, 377 E. Flamingo Road, Las Vegas, Nevada 89109.

May 20, 1997, Holiday Inn Airport, 5010 Old National Highway, Atlanta, Georgia 30349.

May 22, 1997, Department of Labor, Frances Perkins Building, Auditorium, 200 Constitution Avenue, NW., Washington, DC 20210.

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

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: On December 17, 1996, MSHA published in the Federal Register (61 FR 66348) a proposed rule to revise the Agency's existing health standards for occupational noise, allowing 60 days for public comment. The Agency has received a number of requests from the mining community to extend the period for comment. These requests include a range of from 15 to 180 additional days. The comment period was scheduled to close on February 18, 1997. MSHA does not believe that an extension of 180 days (until August 17, 1997) is warranted. The Agency believes that a more reasoned response is an extension until April 21, 1997, an additional 60 days beyond the original comment period. The Agency believes that this extension will provide sufficient time for all interested parties to review and comment on the proposal, and does not anticipate that any further extensions are necessary or appropriate.

In addition to this action extending the comment period, MSHA will hold public hearings to receive comments. The hearings will address any issues relevant to the rulemaking such as the requirements for dose determination, threshold level, exchange rate, action level, permissible exposure level, administrative/engineering controls, dual hearing protection level, ceiling level, operator exposure monitoring, employee notification, hearing protectors, training, audiometric testing, follow-up evaluation, follow-up corrective measures, notification of results, reporting requirements, access to records, and transfer of records.

The hearings will be conducted in an informal manner by a panel of MSHA officials. Although formal rules of evidence or cross examination will not apply, the presiding official may exercise discretion to ensure the orderly progress of the hearings and may exclude irrelevant or unduly repetitious material and questions.

Each session will begin with an opening statement from MSHA, followed by an opportunity for members of the public to make oral presentations. The hearing panel may ask questions of speakers. At the discretion of the presiding official, the time allocated to speakers for their presentations may be limited. In the interest of conducting productive hearings, MSHA will schedule speakers in a manner that allows all points of view to be heard as effectively as possible.

Verbatim transcripts of the proceedings will be prepared and made a part of the rulemaking record. Copies of the hearing transcripts will be made available for public review.

MSHA will accept additional written comments and other appropriate data for the record from any interested party, including those not presenting oral statements. Written comments and data submitted to MSHA will be included in the rulemaking record. To allow for the submission of posthearing comments, the record will remain open until June 16, 1997. This provides a total of 6 months from publication for the public to comment on this proposed rule.

     Dated: January 31, 1997.
J. Davitt McAteer,
Assistant Secretary for Mine Safety and Health.
[FR Doc. 97-3001 Filed 2-5-97; 8:45 am]
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