MSHA Issues Final Rule On Hazardous Chemicals In Mining

The Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) has issued the Hazard Communication (HazCom) standard, which requires mine operators to assess the hazards of chemicals they produce or use, train miners and provide them with information on these hazards.

"By increasing knowledge and awareness, HazCom should bolster good work procedures and encourage safer behavior," said Dave D. Lauriski, assistant secretary of labor for mine safety and health. "We will be providing extensive compliance assistance to mine operators in understanding and meeting the new requirements."

Between 1990 and 1999, the mining industry reported more than 3,000 chemical burns and poisonings to MSHA.

For mines with five or fewer employees, the rule is effective nine months from June 21, 2002. For mines employing more than five miners, the rule is effective three months from that date.

MSHA originally published an "interim final" HazCom rule in October 2000, pledging to allow further public input before the rule became effective. The just-published final rule includes revisions reflecting additional public input.

MSHA's HazCom rule is strictly an information and training standard and does not set exposure limits. It requires operators to know what chemicals they have on mine property, identify the ones that are hazardous and inform miners about their potential exposure and means of protection. MSHA also will be holding workshops to assist mine operators and is publishing HazCom training materials that can be used at mines.

The training requirements in the final HazCom rule concern initial training. Training requirements that were in the interim final rule have been moved to existing Parts 46 and 48 of Title 30, Code of Federal Regulations.

The HazCom regulation can be found on MSHA's Web site at http://www.msha.govwww.msha.gov.

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