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MSHA News Release No. 99-1001
Mine Safety and Health Administration - USDOL
Contact: Amy Louviere
Phone: 703-235-1452

Released Friday, October 1, 1999

New Rules Will Require Safety Training for Stone and Gravel Miners

For years, sand and gravel pits and some other kinds of mines were exempt from enforcement of safety and health training requirements but that is about to change. The federal Mine Safety and Health Administration published new regulations today that will allow the agency to inspect for training programs at 10,000 mines across the country involving 120,000 miners.

"Extending this protection is one of the most important steps we can take to improve safety in this industry," Secretary of Labor Alexis M. Herman said. MSHA is part of the Labor Department.

Congress directed MSHA to develop training regulations by Sept. 30 for all miners who work at shell dredging, surface clay, surface stone, sand, gravel, colloidal phosphate and surface limestone mines. MSHA conducted seven public meetings around the country in late 1998 and early 1999 to hear from everyone interested in the development of the new rules.

The final training rule comes at a time when new highway construction is bringing increased demand for quarried gravel and other highway materials. "With passage last year of the $217 billion highway construction bill we have already seen a steady increase in the number of aggregate operations that produce road-building material," said Davitt McAteer, assistant secretary of labor for mine safety and health. "Clearly, the demand for aggregates has prompted an increased need for trained miners, which certainly will challenge us to increase our own efforts to protect miners' health and safety."

Key provisions of the training regulation include:

-- Mine operators must establish miner health and safety training programs.

-- New miners must get at least 24 hours of training, with a minimum of four hours of instruction in seven specific areas before they start to work. The seven areas are: introduction to the work environment, instruction in recognizing and avoiding hazards, review of escape and emergency plans, instruction on health and safety aspects of the work they will be doing, instruction on statutory rights of miners, a review and description of the line of authority and an introduction to the procedures for reporting mine hazards.

-- Miners must receive at least eight hours of refresher training yearly, which covers major changes at the mine. They must also be trained on safety features of each newly assigned task.

-- Training must be provided by someone qualified on the particular subject. Instructors do not need MSHA approval.

-- Mine operators are allowed to substitute equivalent training required by OSHA or other federal or state agencies.