VTCA Submits Comments on MSHA’s Proposed Powered Haulage Rule

November 30, 2021

On September 8, 2021, MSHA published the Proposed Powered Haulage Rule (Rule). This Rule was developed in reaction to an increase in serious mining accidents involving powered haulage equipment, specifically mobile equipment on mine sites.

Part of the process of developing new regulations is stakeholder input. The Proposed Power Haulage Rule   by MSHA is no exception. The period ended on November 8 for stakeholders to submit comments on the proposed Rule.

While the intent of the Rule is commendable, industry representatives, including the VTCA Aggregates Health & Safety Committee, found many components of the proposed Rule redundant to existing regulations, impractical, or unrealistic to enforce.

The complete rule can be found here.

The VTCA Aggregate Producers Safety & Health Committee submitted the below comments to MSHA.

§ 56.23001 Definitions 

Surface mobile equipment – The Definition of Surface Mobile Equipment is vague and certain equipment on mine sites may or may not meet the definition of Surface Mobile Equipment. Listed below are some (but not limited to) examples of equipment that may be in question:  
 
Small Boats 
Dredges 
Portable Screening Plants 
Portable Crushers 
Auger Conveyors 
Hydraulic Conveyors 

VTCA suggests more clarity in what equipment is subject to the Rule, perhaps developing a finite list of equipment that would be either subject to or exempt from the Rule. 

§ 56.23002 Written safety program. 

VTCA believes that development of Powered Haulage Safety Plan within 6 months of Final Rule is not ample time for Operators to develop and implement Powered Haulage Safety Plans. VTCA suggests MSHA consider a one-year time frame for Plan development with and an additional grace period of one year for MSHA to review and advise Plan implantation without operators facing the threat of receiving notices of violations.  
 
Additionally, VTCA suggests MSHA train Education, Field and Small Mine Services personnel to assist operators develop and implement any new Powered Haulage Rule and plans. 

§ 56.23003 Requirements for written safety program. 

§ 56.23003 (a) (1) Identify and analyze hazards. – VTCA believes the requirements of this section are consistent with and redundant to requirements already set forth in Part 46 of the 30 CFR.  

§ 56.23003 (a) (2) Develop and maintain procedures and schedules. – VTCA contends existing requirements set forth in and referenced in this Proposed Rule – defined in sections 56.14100, 56.14105, 56.14211, of 30 CFR are sufficient to meet requirements set forth in this proposed standard.  

§ 56.23003 (a) (3) Identify currently available and newly emerging feasible technologies. – This is an unrealistic requirement that has no ability to be quantified. Furthermore, this requirement may expose operators to potential undue negligent liability. MSHA could consider mechanisms to inform industry of new technologies rather than require industry to constantly explore for any new technologies.  

§ 56.23003 (a) (4) Identify and analyze hazards. – VTCA believes the requirements of this section are consistent with and redundant to requirements already set forth in Part 46 of 30 CFR 

§ 56.23003 (b) The responsible person shall evaluate and update the written safety program annually. – This regulation is also covered by Part 56 of 30 CFR and is redundant. Additionally, this may be unfairly subject Responsible Persons to unjustified liability.  

§ 56.23004 Record and inspection. 

The Aggregate Producer members of the Virginia Transportation Construction Alliance wholly supports MSHA in their efforts to keep all miners safe while on the job. However, many of the requirements established via the proposed Powered Haulage Rule are redundant with existing Part 46 and Part 56 regulations within 30 CFR. Initiatives that are new and directly related to powered haulage safety that are not covered by current regulations could be incorporated into existing regulations and operator’s training plans. It is the belief of VTCA that imposing redundant rules exposes operators to additional violations for the same infraction. MSHA could consider developing a Powered Haulage Safety Plan template that would be incorporated into the existing safety and training plans developed and administered by operators. This would ensure consistency in the plan. 

See all submitted stakeholder comments here.

Supporting Organizations: