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Mine Sites May Bring Unfamiliar Regulations


OSHA regulation is something you are no doubt familiar with; however, you may be less familiar with the few situations that don’t fall under OSHA’s jurisdiction. In the mining industry, the Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) replaces OSHA as the regulating body of workplace safety. While you may not work primarily in the mining industry, if you do contract work with mine owners or operators on mine property, you need to know when you are responsible for following MSHA regulations in addition to your OSHA responsibilities.


Who is an Independent Contractor?

MSHA regulates mine operators and has the authority to issue citations for violations of safety or health standards. Under the Mine Act, the definition of an operator includes “any independent contractor performing services or construction at a mine.” MSHA classifies independent contractors as those that perform the following:

· Contract with the mine owner or other operator to do work at the mine

· Use their own methods, equipment and tools while working at the mine

· Are not otherwise paid or treated as an employee of the owner/operator

· Are not under the day-to-day direction and control of the mine owner/operator except in general matters of product, timing or results


This means that whether you’re a trucking company picking up goods or a construction contractor doing work at a mine site, you hold the same responsibility to follow MSHA regulation as those directly responsible for running the mine.

When on mine property, any independently contracted worker is considered a miner in the eyes of the MSHA. They are expected to have the proper MSHA required training and work under any applicable MSHA regulations. When they leave the mine site, OSHA standards apply.


Independent Contractor Identification Number

Any independent contractors that perform work at mine sites, or that have contracts to perform any of the types of services or construction listed below at a mine, are required by MSHA to have identification numbers:

· Mine development, including shaft and slope sinking

· Construction or reconstruction of mine facilities, including building or rebuilding preparation plants and mining equipment and building additions to existing facilities

· Demolition of mine facilities

· Construction of dams

· Excavation or earthmoving activities involving mobile equipment

· Equipment installation, such as crushers and mills

· Equipment service or repair of equipment on mine property for a period exceeding five consecutive days at a particular mine

· Material handling within mine property, such as the haulage of coal, ore and refuse, unless for the sole purpose of direct removal from or delivery to mine property

· Drilling and blasting

Contractors do not need a number to bid on these types of jobs but are required to file for an identification number at the time of being awarded such a project.


Avoiding MSHA Liability

If properly planned for, compliance with MSHA regulation is fairly straightforward. Use these tips to stay clear of any MSHA violations and the costly fines that go with them:

· Become familiar with MSHA regulations.

· File for an MSHA Independent Contractor Identification Number.

· Provide employees with the appropriate MSHA training before they begin their work on a mine site.

· Keep the owner/operator of the mine site informed of all employee training.

· Inform MSHA and the mine owner/operator of any employee injuries on site.


Remember, the mine owner/operator you are in contract with most likely has a considerable amount of experience working with MSHA regulations and can be a reliable resource for your questions. In some cases, the mine owner/operator can be held partially liable for the violations of their independent contractors, which makes it worth their while to use their experience to help you comply with MSHA standards you may be unfamiliar with.

Contact GCH Insurance Group at (859) 254-1836 with any coverage or exposure questions or for additional safety information.


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