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[Federal Register: April 23, 1998 (Volume 63, Number 78) Page 20217]


Mine Safety and Health Administration

The "Significant and Substantial" Phrase in Sections 104 (d) and (e) of the Federal Mine Safety and Health Act of 1977; Suspension of Interpretative Bulletin

On February 5, 1998 (63 FR 6012), the Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) issued an Interpretative Bulletin which set forth the Agency's interpretation of the statutory phrase "* * * significantly and substantially contribute to the cause and effect of a coal or other mine safety or health hazard * * *" and which announced that MSHA would challenge an interpretation of that language by the Federal Mine Safety and Health Review Commission.

In response to concerns raised by the mining industry, on February 20, 1998 (63 FR 8692), the Agency announced a 60-day comment period on the implementation and impact of the interpretation of that phrase. During the comment period, the mining industry presented views that the approach set out in the Interpretative Bulletin would be overly- inclusive, resulting in an application that would classify virtually all violations as S&S. This was not MSHA's intent.

The Agency's purpose was to seek an application of the phrase that would recognize that serious hazards which have a real possibility of causing death or serious injury or illness should properly be classified and addressed as S&S violations.

Upon consideration of the views presented to date, the Agency believes that further dialogue on the application of the statutory phrase "significant and substantial" would better serve all segments of the mining community. By this notice, MSHA is hereby suspending the Interpretative Bulletin and the applicable provisions of the Program Information Bulletin issued on February 5. MSHA will continue to accept written comments on this matter.

Dated: April 20, 1998.
J. Davitt McAteer,
Assistant Secretary for Mine Safety and Health.
[FR Doc. 98-10911 Filed 4-21-98; 10:23 am]