The Colorado Stone, Sand & Gravel Association (CSSGA) opposes MSHA’s proposed rule changes on workplace exams, as the agency seeks to add unnecessary complexity and more paperwork to the current process. At an MSHA public hearing meeting held on July 26 at the MSHA headquarters in Arlington, VA, Todd Ohlheiser, Executive Director for CSSGA, testified and provided examples of how this ruling would negatively impact, not only the mining companies, but also could lead to more confusion with miners themselves. The MSHA panel, led by Sheila McConnell, Acting Director, Office of Standards, Variances and Regulations for MSHA included questions and a brief interactive discussion regarding the examples provided by Mr. Ohlheiser. Others providing comments included Joseph Casper, NSSGA vice president of safety, along with others representing mining related associations and industries across the US.
NSSGA reports the proposed rule will likely undercut operator ability to manage for safety and appears to be more than the industry requires. Operators have had the responsibility to improve safety in ways that make sense for their unique facilities, equipment and processes. “Given that aggregates operators have attained a record low injury rate, we think the workplace exams proposal is unwarranted,” Mr. Casper said. Many operators, he added, have also focused on improving behaviors of staff and management at every level instead of only evaluating conditions.
Anne Kelhart, of Martin Stone, and member of NSSGA, told MSHA that conducting exams before beginning work, as dictated in the proposal, means doing those exams before sunrise. “The most competent person in the world could miss hazards before dawn,” she said. “[It’s] a direct and negative impact on our miners.”
The proposal would also increase administrative tasks without requisite safety benefits. Todd Ohlheiser, executive director of the Colorado Stone, Sand and Gravel Association said that some operators in his state would have a hard time complying with this proposal.
CSSGA is developing formal comments on the proposal to submit to MSHA before their Sept. 6 deadline. We are hopeful the agency will make significant changes to the current proposal based on these comments. For more information, go to CSSGA or NSSGA websites.
Todd R. Ohlheiser
Colorado Stone, Sand & Gravel Association (CSSGA)