Opponents of MSHA's Drug/Alcohol Testing Rule Get Another Shot

A surprising amount of opposition has developed for MSHA's proposed rule for drug and alcohol programs and testing at all mines. Mine operators complain their existing programs and pre-hire testing policies will be curtailed, while the UMWA says MSHA hasn't shown a new rule is needed. The agency's Oct. 14 informal public hearing was done as a webcast to several sites, but participants claimed the technique failed because some miners who wanted to testify couldn't squeeze into a room at one site and weren't able to testify as planned.

This follow-up public hearing will begin at 9 a.m. Eastern and last until 5 p.m. or the last speaker has testified, MSHA said in today's Federal Register notice. The MSHA panel will be in Washington, D.C., but the National Mine Health and Safety Academy in Beckley, W.Va., will have an audio feed, as will the Sheraton Birmingham Hotel in Birmingham, Ala., and a Steelworkers local union hall in Virginia, Minn. Requests to speak at the hearing should be made by calling 202-693-9440, faxing 202-693-9441, or e-mailing [email protected]

MSHA will accept post-hearing written comments and data for the record from any interested party until midnight Eastern on Nov. 10, 2008.

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