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MSHA Seeks Comments on Potential Substance Abuse Standard

On October 4, 2005, the Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) issued an advanced notice of proposed rulemaking (ANPRM) on the “Use of or Impairment From Alcohol and Other Drugs on Mine Property.”

MSHA announced in the summary that “Because of the inherent dangers present in all mining environments, we are considering regulatory and non-regulatory approaches to address the risks and hazards to miner safety from the use of or impairment from alcohol and other drugs and are soliciting information from the public to help determine how to proceed.”

Currently, the issue is addressed in the metal/ non-metal regulations under Standard 30 CFR Section 56(57) 200001. This standard states that “Intoxicating beverages and narcotics shall not be permitted or used in or around mines. Persons under the influence of alcohol or narcotics shall not be permitted on the job.” There are currently no regulatory coal standards that address the issue. Between January 1, 2000 and June 30, 2005, penalties were assessed for 78 violations of these standards.

MSHA has instituted a number of non-regulatory efforts to address the issue. These efforts are as follows:

  • A partnership with the Joseph A. Holmes Safety Association to establish the Professional Miner Program to recognize miners who have worked injury-free for at least three years. Miners who have been recognized as Professional Miners sign a pledge, which includes a commitment to “work to ensure a safe, healthy and alcohol- and drug-free workplace.” To date, approximately 15,500 miners have taken this pledge.
  • MSHA participates in the drug-free workplace alliance to provide union members and the construction industry with information, guidance and access to training resources.
  • On December 8, 2004, MSHA co-sponsored with the states of Kentucky , Virginia and West Virginia a one-day summit for individuals involved in coal mining operations and activities in the Southern Appalachian region.
  • MSHA participates in Kentucky 's Mine Substance Abuse Task Force.
  • Worked to raise awareness of drug and alcohol abuse through presentations during the 2005 “Spring Thaw” initiative.
  • MSHA requested that applicants for the 2006 State Grants Programs include “substance abuse” as part of a new miner training and annual refresher curriculum.
  • MSHA's National Mine Health and Safety Academy is producing an awareness video on the hazards of alcohol and other drugs.

MSHA will accept comments on this proposed rulemaking through November 27, 2005, and it has scheduled seven public hearings from October 24-November 8, 2005. Included in the ANPRM is a list of 33 specific questions that MSHA will use to determine how to best address this issue.

Please click on the following link to review the ANPRM: