MSHA Announces Mobile Equipment Rule

The U.S. Department of Labor announced a final rule from its Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) to help protect miners from accidents, injuries and fatalities related to surface mobile equipment.

The rule requires mine operators to have written safety programs for surface mobile equipment — excluding belt conveyors — at surface mines and underground mines’ surface areas. The programs must include input from miners and their representatives and identify hazards and risks.

In recent years, powered haulage equipment and machinery have been the leading causes of serious and fatal mine accidents. The final rule aligns with MSHA’s overall effort to improve safety in equipment use. So far in 2023, 40 mining industry workers have suffered fatal injuries, including 16 classified as machinery and 10 classified as powered haulage fatalities.

“Given the number of serious and fatal machinery and powered haulage accidents that have occurred in recent years, the Mine Safety and Health Administration has worked hard to issue this final rule to enhance safety protections for miners working with and around surface mobile equipment,” said Assistant Secretary for Mine Safety and Health Chris Williamson. “As MSHA works with the entire mining community to implement the new rule, we strongly encourage everyone to prioritize training and to identify and eliminate machinery and powered haulage hazards that can put miners’ lives and livelihoods at risk.”

Earlier this year, Assistant Secretary Williamson sent an open letter to the mining community, noting MSHA will continue to use all its tools to combat the unacceptable upward trend in fatalities. The letter also announced an inaugural “Stand Down to Save Lives” event to encourage the nation’s mining community to take steps to prevent injuries and illnesses.

Other MSHA initiatives to combat the number of mining accidents, injuries, and fatalities in machinery, powered haulage equipment and other areas include safety and health alerts, the “Take Time, Save Lives” campaign, Powered Haulage Equipment Guidance, and an Enhanced Enforcement Program.  

District managers will discuss compliance assistance for the mining industry at stakeholder meetings beginning in January 2024  

The final rule will be published in the Federal Register on Dec. 20. 

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