Late last week — predictably, just before a holiday weekend — the Obama administration released its latest regulatory agenda. Not surprisingly, the timeline for the U.S. Mine Safety and Health Administration to begin requiring coal-mine operators to install life-saving proximity detection systems in underground mines was pushed back … again.
When last we heard from MSHA in December, the timeline was for a final rule for proximity detection on continuous mining machines to be out by February 2014. Now, the timeline says June 2014. The old timeline for other underground mining equipment was to get a proposed rule out the door by May 2014 (this month). The new timeline says that won’t happen until September 2014.
So far this year, after two different coal-mining deaths (see here and here) MSHA has issued “Fatalgram” reports that listed “install proximity detection” as a “best practice” that would help to eliminate these kinds of deaths … yet the agency’s timeline for requiring the industry to use these devices keeps getting pushed back … At least the West Virginia Board of Coal Mine Health and Safety has issued its proximity detection rule — though it took a lot of public pressure, and the timeline in it for operators to actually install the devices is pretty loose.