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DOL/MSHA RIN: 1219-AB75 Publication ID: Fall 2011
Title: Examination of Work Areas in Underground Coal Mines for Violations of Mandatory Health or Safety Standards
Abstract: In the ever changing mine environment, it is critical that hazardous conditions be recognized and abated quickly. Additionally, other conditions that could develop into a hazard if left uncorrected must also be eliminated. Operator examinations for hazards and violations of mandatory health or safety standards are mandated in the Mine Act and are a critical component of an effective safety and health program for underground mines. While this requirement was previously included in regulations, the 1992 final rule addressing ventilation in underground coal mines only included the requirement that the mine examiners look for hazardous conditions. The 1992 rule omitted from the standard the text taken from the Mine Act requiring examinations for violations of mandatory health or safety standards during preshift examinations. The final rule will revise existing standards for preshift, supplemental, on-shift, and weekly examinations to address violations of mandatory health or safety standards.
Agency: Department of Labor(DOL) Priority: Other Significant
RIN Status: Previously published in the Unified Agenda Agenda Stage of Rulemaking: Final Rule Stage
Major: No Unfunded Mandates: No
CFR Citation: 30 CFR 75
Legal Authority: 30 USC 811; 30 USC 961
Legal Deadline: None

Statement of Need: Underground coal mines usually present harsh and hostile working environments, and the ventilation system is the most vital life support system in underground mining. A properly operating ventilation system is essential for maintaining a safe and healthful working environment. Examinations of work areas that include the ventilation system are the first line of defense for miners working in underground coal mines and are necessary to protect miners. Conditions in underground coal mines change rapidly--roof that appears adequately supported can quickly deteriorate and fall; stoppings can crush out and short-circuit air currents; conveyor belts can become misaligned or belt roller bearings can fail, resulting in an ignition source; and methane can accumulate in areas where it may not have been detected. Diligent compliance with safety and health standards and safety-conscious work practices provide a substantial measure of protection against mine accidents and emergencies. To assure optimum safety of miners, it is imperative that operators find violations of health or safety standards, correct them, and record corrective actions taken.

Summary of the Legal Basis: Promulgation of this regulation is authorized by sections 101 and 303 (d)(1) and (f) of the Federal Mine Safety and Health Act of 1977.

Alternatives: The proposal included several alternatives in the preamble and requested comments on them.

Anticipated Costs and Benefits: MSHA estimated that the proposed rule would cost $15.3 million yearly and result in net benefits of $6.0 million yearly.

Risks: Failure to conduct adequate examinations to identify, report, and correct hazardous conditions and violations of health and safety standards has resulted in serious accidents and fatalities. Lack of adequate ventilation in underground mines has resulted in fatalities from asphyxiation and explosions.

Timetable:
Action Date FR Cite
NPRM 12/27/2010 75 FR 81165
NPRM Comment Period End 02/25/2011
NPRM Extension of Comment Period 03/01/2011 76 FR 11187
NPRM Comment Period End 03/28/2011
Notice of Public Hearing and Extension of Comment Period 05/04/2011 76 FR 25277
NPRM Comment Period End 06/30/2011
Notice of Public Hearing and Extension of Comment Period 06/20/2011 76 FR 35801
NPRM Comment Period End 08/01/2011
Final Action 04/00/2012
Regulatory Flexibility Analysis Required: Undetermined Government Levels Affected: None
Federalism: No
Included in the Regulatory Plan: Yes
RIN Information URL: www.msha.gov/regsinfo.htm
RIN Data Printed in the FR: No
Related RINs: Related to 1219-AB71
Agency Contact:
Roslyn B. Fontaine
Acting Director, Office of Standards, Regulations, and Variances
Department of Labor
Mine Safety and Health Administration
1100 Wilson Boulevard, Room 2350,
Arlington, VA 22209-3939
Phone:202 693-9440
Fax:202 693-9441
Email: fontaine.roslyn@dol.gov