Shedding Light on Unconstitutional Federal Regulations
October 6, 2017 – Getting the Government Out of the Mines
Rolling Back the MHSA Workplace Examination Rule
What does this regulation do?
During their final days in office, the Obama Administration’s Mine Safety and Health Administration (MHSA) finalized the Workplace Examination Rule. The rule would have required both metal and nonmetal mines to conduct examinations of the mine site before work can begin in an area.
Why is this a problem?
While workplace safety is obviously imperative and should be a priority, it is important to allow businesses the flexibility to have safety protocols that make the most sense for them. This rule is redundant to the safety standards that are currently in place, but will make compliance more costly and burdensome. For example, many mines operate on a 24 hour, 365 days schedule, with no break in between changing shifts. The rule would force those mines to stop functioning for hours potentially, and would increase the recording and reporting requirements for each examination with little, if any, measurable improvement in safety.
MHSA also estimates the rule could cost the mining industry over $34 million annually. Regulations like this one that come with such hefty price tags ultimately inhibit economic growth and decrease job growth within the industry.
How can we solve this problem?
The Trump Administration has taken actions during the year to delay implementation of the rule. In September, MHSA proposed an additional delay along with changes that will provide increased flexibility to mine operators. I commend the administration for these actions.
The proposed changes remain open for public comment, and I encourage you to send your thoughts to the administration before November 13, 2017 by clicking here. I will also be submitting comments in support of the mining industry and against any additional bureaucratic regulations.
What are they saying?
“Providing a safe work environment is the top concern for the Arizona Mining Association’s member companies. Unfortunately, MSHA’s new rule on Examinations in Working Places does not further that goal. While the delay in the effective date provides additional time to make the operational and paperwork changes necessary to be in compliance with the new rule, our underlying concern remains the same. A one-size-fits-all approach is not workable given the vast variations in the sizes and types of mines in the United States. Mine operators know best how to conduct examinations in ways that will minimize the risk of injury or harm to workers while fostering positive labor-management relations.” - Arizona Mining Association
“It has been my experience, based on years of conducting incident investigations along with root cause analysis, more incidents are caused by human error than with a particular workplace.
Complacency, laziness, willingness to attempt a shortcut, these human behaviors are ultimately the reason for an incident. Basically a workplace exam failure is a result of one of the mentioned behaviors.
The other major concern with a workplace exam being performed without a definition of a competent person, is that it may be interpreted in such a manner that production could be postponed for hours waiting for this one person to inspect an entire site before work commences.
I believe everyone’s heart is in this important concern but, we need to be sure we are addressing a cause and not just an effect.” - Ron Carruthers, Lehigh Hanson
“The proposed rule change is largely redundant to what’s already mandated in the MSHA’s standards. Additionally, it is rife with additional requirements that would not have the intended results and open-up operations to multiple layers of enforcement scrutiny. Safety professionals today recognize that the overwhelming majority-of accidents are functions of worker or management behavior rather than conditions at the workplace. A broad-brush attempt to address workplace exams could have negative unintended consequences and takes the autonomy away from successful operators, which is why ARPA is opposed to the proposed changes.” – Steve Trussell, Executive Director, Arizona Rock Products Association