MSHA Releases Additional FAQs on Respirable Dust Rule

The agency released a robust FAQ section regarding the recent respirable dust rule's medical examination requirements.

The Mine Safety and Health Administration has updated its set of Frequently Asked Questions on the Respirable Dust Rule. The recent updates include more questions and answers regarding medical examination requirements. Below are a handful of the new FAQs:

We do not currently have a NIOSH-approved plan.  What do we need to do?
A coal mine operator without an existing NIOSH-approved plan, including a surface coal mine operator, must develop and submit for approval to NIOSH a plan in accordance with existing 42 CFR part 37 and submit a roster of the name and current address of each miner covered by the plan.  Under 42 CFR § 37.4(a), NIOSH provides a 60-day period for an operator without an approved plan to submit a plan.  Therefore, as of September 30, 2014 (within 60 days of August 1, 2014), all coal mine operators must either have an existing NIOSH-approved plan or have submitted a plan to NIOSH for approval under existing 42 CFR part 37.  New mines opening after August 1, 2014 would need to submit a plan within 60 days of opening. 

What examinations do we need to provide to new miners?
Effective August 1, 2014, all coal mine operators must provide all new miners with the mandatory examinations consisting of chest x-rays and occupational history within 30 days after beginning employment.  However, on or after August 1, 2014, for a miner beginning employment at a mine without an existing NIOSH-approved plan, MSHA will allow 30 days after NIOSH approves the plan to provide the mandatory examinations.  All miners beginning employment on or after August 1 but before the date of a plan approval must be given the mandatory examinations within 30 days after the date of the plan approval.  All miners beginning employment on or after August 1 at a mine with an approved plan must be given the mandatory examinations within 30 days after beginning employment.  

The rule says I have to record the amount of material produced on each MMU during each production shift.  How am I supposed to determine that without belt scales?
The final rule requires that the production of material be recorded for each MMU on each shift.  If you do not have scales located to provide that information, then an alternative method must be used.  An alternative method may be to determine during each shift the distance of advance along with a calculation to transform that distance into tonnage based on the material being mined (total material including coal and rock).

MSHA plans to update the FAQs on an ongoing basis. 

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