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Compliance Guideline for
MSHA's Part 46 Training Regulations

Training and Retraining of Miners Engaged in Shell Dredging or Employed at Sand,Gravel, Surface Stone, Surface Clay, Colloidal Phosphate, or Surface Limestone Mines

Version 3 - Published May 28, 2001

§ 46.3 Training Plans

40. Q. Where can I get a copy of a sample training plan?

A. Sample plans are available on our Internet Home Page at, and can be obtained from MSHA's Educational Field Services Division, MSHA's National Mine Health and Safety Academy in Beckley, West Virginia, your local MSHA office, and most states participating in the MSHA State Grants Program. These sample plans can be used by operators and independent contractors as a basis for developing their own mine-specific plans.

41. Q. If a mine operator must revise a plan immediately prior to training, must he go through the 2-week review before giving the training?

A. Section 46.3(b)(4) requires that the production-operator and the independent contractor include in their approved training plan a list of persons who will provide the training, and the subject areas in which each person and/or organization is competent to instruct. Section 46.3(j) requires mine operators to comply with the procedures for plan approval under this section whenever the plan undergoes revision. This includes sharing the revised plan with miners ortheir representatives before implementing it.

     If the mine operator has miners gathered for training and the competent person listed in the approved training plan cannot provide the training, the mine operator may substitute an unlisted competent person for the listed competent person without the 2-week advance notice as required in 30 CFR 46.3(d), provided that the operator informs all miners to be trained and their representatives prior to substituting the competent person, and provided that no miners or their representatives object to the substitution. This allows greater flexibility in the standard and upholds the spirit of the regulation.

42. Q. I am an independent contractor who provides training to my employees under Part 48. Is there anything else I need to do before my employees work at mine sites where the Part 46 regulations apply?

A. It is possible for an operator to develop a training program that complies with both sets of regulations. An operator can easily adjust a training plan developed under Part 48 to address the new Part 46 training requirements, by making the following changes:
  • Designate and list in the plan a competent person who will teach each subject, including task training;

  • List the approximate time or range of time that will be spent on each subject area listed on the training plan; and

  • Describe the evaluation procedures used to determine the effectiveness of all required safety and health training.
43. Q. In section 46.3(b)(1), the regulation requires an independent contractor to list the MSHA independent contractor number on the training plan. As an independent contractor, do I need to have an MSHA independent contractor number in order to have an approved training plan?

A. If you have or get an MSHA independent contractor number, you must put it on your training plan. Unless required for other purposes under Title 30 CFR, MSHA does not require an independent contractor to get an MSHA contractor ID number for the purpose of having an approved Part 46 training plan.

44. Q. Is every independent contractor who employs miners required to develop and implement a training plan?

A. Yes. Independent contractors who employ "miners" are primarily responsible for providing comprehensive training to their employees. This requires them to develop a training plan containing effective programs for providing this training. If arrangements are made to receive training from the production-operator, it must be indicated in the independent contractor's training plan.

45. Q. Can an independent contractor use a production-operator's training plan when the contractor's employees are required to have newly hired experienced miner training?

A. Yes. There is nothing in Part 46 that would prevent an independent contractor from arranging with the production-operator to have the production-operator provide training to the independent contractor's employees. However, the independent contractor's plan should clearly indicate that the training for the independent contractor's employees will be conducted by the production-operator. Further, the independent contractor must ensure that the plan approval requirements are followed with respect to his or her employees. For example, the independent contractor must provide the miners or their representative with a copy of the plan at least 2 weeks before the plan is implemented.

46. Q. Can more than one person be designated by the operator in the training plan as responsible for health and safety training at the mine?

A. Yes. We recognize that some operators, particularly those that operate large facilities, may want the flexibility of having more than one person who can certify that training has been given under § 46.3(b)(5). There is nothing in the Part 46 regulations that would prevent an operator from giving this responsibility to more than one person.

47. Q. If a production-operator has multiple mining operations that are several miles apart, is it acceptable under Part 46 to have only one person designated as the person responsible for miner health and safety training at all of the operator's mines?

A. Part 46 allows the operator flexibility in making these designations. For example, it is acceptable if the operator designates only one person as the person responsible for training at all mines. On the other hand, the operator may choose to designate a responsible person at each individual mine. In either case, this person is responsible at each individual mine for ensuring that training is effective and provided according to the training plan.

48. Q. Can I have one plan that covers multiple mines?

A. Yes. A training plan can be used for more than one mine. The plan would need to cover all the appropriate training requirements, including site-specific hazard awareness training, at each mine listed on the plan.

49. Q. Must the person who is designated as responsible for health and safety training at the mine also be listed as a "competent person" on the training plan?

A. No. Part 46 does not require that the person who is designated as responsible for training also be a "competent person" for training purposes.

50. Q. Is the person who is designated as responsible for training at the mine required to be a supervisor or manager?

A. No. However, mine operators and independent contractors must choose someone who has the authority to verify and certify that the training was effective and done in accordance with the training plan and the regulations.
51. Q. Must the person who is designated as responsible for training actually observe the training before he or she certifies the record?

A. No. However, this person must understand what training is being given, since this person is ultimately responsible for certifying that the training was completed. Further, this person is certifying to the fact that the training indicated on the certification was conducted in accordance with the training plan.

52. Q. Section 46.3(b)(3) requires that the training plan indicate the subject areas to be covered in the training and the approximate time to be spent on each subject area. What does "approximate time" mean?

A. "Approximate time" means the operator's reasonable estimate of the amount of time that will be spent on a particular subject. For example, the training plan could indicate that the course will last over a specified range of time, such as from one to two hours. The plan could also indicate that training in a particular subject may last "approximately 3 hours," recognizing that when the training is actually given it may require more or less time than is indicated in the training plan. This flexibility allows for adjustments based on changing mine conditions or operations, including the needs and experience of the individuals who receive the training.

53. Q. In the regulation, the section on annual refresher training lists recommended subjects that could be included in the training. Can I list all of these subjects in my training plan and select different subjects from this list each year?

A. No. The training plan needs to accurately represent each subject which you plan to cover during annual refresher training. As a reminder, if you modify this list, you must provide the miners' representative, if any, with a copy of the plan at least 2 weeks before the plan is implemented. If no miners' representative has been designated, you must post a copy of the plan at the mine or provide a copy to each miner at least 2 weeks before you implement the training.

54. Q. How should a mine operator evaluate the effectiveness of training?

A. The rule allows the mine operator to select the method that they will use to decide if training has been effective. Possible evaluation methods include administering written or oral tests, or a demonstration by the miner that he or she can perform all required duties or tasks in a safe and healthful manner.

In addition, periodic work observations can be used to identify areas where additional training may be needed and such observations, along with feedback from the miners, could be used to modify and enhance the training program.

55. Q. If MSHA reviews a plan for approval, what are the guidelines for the appropriate amount of time that should be devoted to each subject?

A. Part 46 takes a performance-oriented approach to training and provides operators with flexibility to design training programs that are appropriate for their workforce and operations. For these reasons, there are no specific requirements as far as how much time should be spent on training in certain subjects. However, § 46.3(a) requires that the plan contain "effective" programs for training, and the time devoted to each subject should be adequate to cover the necessary subject are

A. Where the times allotted do not appear to be appropriate for the subjects listed, we will ask for additional information on the justification for the time specified. Where the time allotted is clearly inadequate, we will ask for additional time to be provided.

56. Q. If our plan has been submitted to and approved by MSHA, do we need to send our plan to MSHA for approval of any subsequent revisions to the plan?

A. No. Obtaining traditional MSHA approval of your plan does not lock you into traditional approval procedures thereafter. You may follow the informal plan approval procedures in § 46.3(b) rather than request traditional MSHA approval under § 46.3(c), even if MSHA has formally approved previous versions of your training plan.

57. Q. Can miners and miners' representatives simply request that MSHA review an operator's training plan, or must they give a reason for requesting the review?

A. Part 46 does not require that miners or their representatives provide a reason before they request MSHA review of an operator's plan.

58. Q. What do the regulations require in an approved training plan?

A. A training plan must address all the elements of training that miners must receive. This includes new miner training, newly-hired experienced miner training, annual refresher training, new task training, and site-specific hazard awareness training for those persons coming onto your site. The plan must also include the following:
  1. The name of your operation, and the mine ID number or independent contractor ID number (if the contractor has an ID number);
  2. The name of the person and position of the person who is responsible for the health and safety training at the mine;
  3. A general description of the teaching methods and course materials that will be used in each training program, including the subjects and the approximate time to be spent on each subject;
  4. A list of the persons and/or organizations who will be providing the training and the subjects that they can teach; and
  5. The evaluation procedures used to determine the effectiveness of training.
59. Q. Is the training plan required to list the name of a person who will provide only one type of task training, as an example, someone who only provides task training for a dozer operator?

A. Yes. The training plan must include the "competent person" who will instruct in all subjects, including the name of the person who will provide only one type of task training. It is acceptable to indicate the names of several potential instructors for one subject or course, where the operator may call on one of several competent persons to provide the training.

60. Q. When is a training plan required to be revised?

A. Part 46 does not set a specific time period for plan revision. However, the training plan must provide accurate and up-to-date information about the details of an operator's training programs. For example, if you add a new task, add a new competent person, or change some of the subjects in annual refresher training, then your training plan must be revised. Additionally 6.3(j) requires operators to comply with the Part 46 plan approval procedures, including sharing the plan with miners or their representatives, whenever the training plan undergoes revisions.

61. Q. Section 46.3(i) requires a copy of the training plan to be produced within one business day of a request by us or the miners or their representatives. How long is "one business day"?

A. If we request that an operator produce a training plan for examination on Tuesday at 1:00 p.m., the deadline for producing the plan would be 1:00 p.m. on Wednesday. If we request that an operator produce a plan at 2:00 p.m. on Friday at a mine that does not operate over the weekend, the deadline for producing the plan would be 2:00 p.m. on Monday.