Protecting and Promoting Your Interests

Protecting Miners: MSHA Guidance on Mitigating and Preventing the Spread of COVID-19

MSHA recently issued written guidance to help mine operators mitigate and prevent the spread of COVID-19.  This is in response to the January 21, 2021 Executive Order (EO) signed by President Biden directed at OSHA and MSHA entitled, “Executive Order on Protecting Worker Health and Safety.” The EO required MSHA to “consider whether any emergency temporary standards on COVID-19 applicable to coal and metal or non-metal mines are necessary, and if such standards are determined to be necessary and consistent with applicable law, issue them as soon as possible.” 
The guidance does not create any new legal obligations and is not a standard or regulation, but it does include references to existing standards. It is based on CDC guidelines and operator best practices. The guidance recommends that operators implement COVID-19 prevention programs at mines, emphasizes the value of engaging miners and miners representatives, outlines reporting requirements for cases of COVID-19, and highlights that prevention programs should include the following elements:  The guidance was created to apply to all types and sizes of mines. Regarding reporting of COVID-19 cases, MSHA clarified that cases should be reported on form 7000-1 only if the case is confirmed and meets the definition of an occupational illness, which includes tracing it back to the mine. MSHA does not require that operators report positive COVID-19 cases that do not meet these requirements but have relied on voluntary communication with operators.

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