The U.S. Department of Labor proposed a delay in the effective date of the final rule on Examinations of Working Places in Metal and Nonmetal Mines from May 23, 2017, to July 24, 2017.
The Mine Safety and Health Administration is proposing the delay to assure that mine operators and miners affected by the final rule have the training and compliance assistance they need.
The proposed delay is also consistent with the Jan. 20, 2017, White House memorandum titled “Regulatory Freeze Pending Review.”
MSHA published the final rule on Jan. 23, 2017. The agency is soliciting comments on the limited issue of whether to extend the effective date to July 24, 2017, and whether this extension offers an appropriate length of time for compliance.
The National Stone, Sand and Gravel Association (NSSGA) is not waiting for MSHA to amend the flawed rule on their own. The association led a coalition of national and state associations to file a petition with the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to challenge the exams rule.
NSSGA has long said that the rule will impede operator efforts to effectively manage workplace safety. In addition to forcing operators to substantially alter work processes, the rule would also mandate substantial increases in paperwork burden. These operational concerns would be especially tough on small operators.
Last year, the aggregates sector attained the lowest injury rate ever of 1.95 injuries per 200,000 hours worked, down from the then-record rate of 2 in 2015. Last year also marked the 16th consecutive year in which aggregates operations lowered the injury rate from the previous year. Ward Nye, chairman, president and CEO of Martin Marietta, emphasized the industry’s commitment to safety before a congressional subcommittee. “We have safety records at our company that are better than department stores,” he said. “I’ll put our safety metrics up against anyone in the world,” he said.
NSSGA’s legal challenge accompanies advocacy efforts with the White House. The association previously met with the Office of Management and Budget to discuss the negative effects of this rule as the Trump administration continues to search for key personnel for the Department of Labor, including a permanent administrator for MSHA.