MSHA Proposes Drug, Alcohol Rule for Mines

MSHA published a proposed rule in the Sept. 8 Federal Register to establish a uniform drug and alcohol standard for all mines.

“Mining under the best of circumstances can be dangerous,” said MSHA Administrator Richard E. Stickler, “and the use of alcohol and illegal substances creates additional, unnecessary hazards in the workplace. Miners do not operate alone. They have to work together to create a safe environment. If one miner is abusing substances, everyone’s safety is put at risk.”

The proposed rule prohibits the possession and use of alcohol and or drugs on mine property. It also requires mine operators to establish drug testing and training programs for miners, and requires all mine operators to create and implement an alcohol- and drug-free workplace program that includes referrals to assistance for miners who violate the policy.

In addition, the proposed rule would require those miners who violate the prohibitions to be removed from the performance of safety-sensitive job functions until they complete the recommended treatment, and their alcohol- and drug-free status is confirmed by a return-to-duty test.

The proposed rule would amend the existing standards for metal and non-metal mines, and establish requirements for coal mines.

The notice of proposed rulemaking offers interested parties an opportunity to submit comments for consideration prior to the publication of final regulations. The rule is available online and MSHA will accept comments until Oct. 8.

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