MSHA Extends Comment Period for Substance Abuse Rule to Oct. 29

The Mine Safety and Health Administration has extended the comment period on its Sept. 8, 2008, proposed rule to amend the existing metal and nonmetal standards for the possession and use of intoxicating beverages and narcotics and make the new standard applicable to all mines. The proposed rule would designate the substances that cannot be possessed on mine property or used while performing safety-sensitive job duties, except when used according to a valid prescription. Mine operators would be required to establish an alcohol- and drug-free mine program, which includes a written policy, employee education, supervisory training, alcohol- and drug-testing for miners who perform safety-sensitive job duties and their supervisors, and referrals for assistance for miners and supervisors who violate the policy.

The proposed rule also would require those who violate the prohibitions to be removed from the performance of safety-sensitive job duties until they successfully complete the recommended treatment and their alcohol- and drug-free status is confirmed by a return-to-duty test. Comments on the proposal are due to MSHA by midnight Eastern Daylight Savings Time on Oct. 29, 2008.

MSHA also will hold a public hearing on the proposal on Oct 14 via webcast at locations in Washington, D.C.; Pittsburgh; and Englewood, Colo. The public may participate via audio only (but cannot make oral presentations) at locations in Beaver, W. Va.; and Birmingham, Ala. Participants will need an ID to enter all locations and may be subject to a security check. For more information, visit http://edocket.access.gpo.gov/2008/E8-22679.htm.

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