Petitions for Modification of Application of Existing Mandatory Safety Standards, 60047-60051 [2017-27120]

Download as PDF daltland on DSKBBV9HB2PROD with NOTICES Federal Register / Vol. 82, No. 241 / Monday, December 18, 2017 / Notices nonpermissible electronic equipment is being used, the equipment will be deenergized immediately and withdrawn to fresh air (intake air entry) more than 150 feet outby pillar workings. (7) All hand-held methane detectors will be MSHA-approved and maintained in permissible and proper operating condition as defined in 30 CFR 75.320. (8) Except for the time necessary to troubleshoot under actual mining conditions, coal production in the longwall section will cease. However, coal may remain in or on the equipment such as the pan line in order to test and diagnose the equipment under ‘‘load.’’ (9) Nonpermissible electronic testing and diagnostic equipment will not be used to test equipment when float coal dust is in suspension. (10) All electronic testing and diagnostic equipment will be used in accordance with manufacturer’s recommended safe use practices. (11) Qualified personnel who use electronic testing and diagnostic equipment will be properly trained to recognize the hazards and limitations associated with use of the equipment. (12) The petitioner will notify MSHA before nonpermissible electronic testing and diagnostic equipment is used within 150 feet of pillar workings. The notice will advise MSHA when any nonpermissible electronic testing and diagnostic equipment is put in service and give MSHA the opportunity to inspect such equipment before being used. (13) Within 60 days after the proposed decision and order (PDO) becomes final, the petitioner will submit proposed revisions for its approved 30 CFR part 48 training plan to the District Manager. These revisions will specify initial and refresher training regarding the terms and conditions of the PDO. The petitioner asserts that application of the existing standard will result in a diminution of safety to the miners and that the proposed alternative method will at all times guarantee no less than the same measure of protection afforded by the existing standard. Docket Number: M–2017–005–M. Petitioner: Ernie Peachay, One Arizona Center, 400 East Van Buren Street, Suite 1900, Phoenix, AZ 85004– 2202. Mine: Old Smith Family Mine, Second Divide, Downieville, California 95936, MSHA I.D. No. 04–05820, located in Sierra County, California. Regulation Affected: 30 CFR 57.4533 (Mine opening vicinity). Modification Request: The petitioner requests a modification of the existing VerDate Sep<11>2014 17:53 Dec 15, 2017 Jkt 244001 standard to the Old Smith Family Mine. A small underground gold mine established in the early 1930s. The petitioner states that: (1) In lieu of the application of 30 CFR 57.4533 to the site, the petitioner proposes to install battery operated smoke alarms in the mine office and shed and to wire them to an alarm underground that will sound so as to immediately notify him of a surface fire in one of the buildings so that he may immediately exit the underground workings. (2) The mine office and shed are historical structures that were built in the 1930s to support mining activities at the Old Smith Family Mine. (3) It is not feasible to move these structures to further than 100 feet from the raises, or to meet the construction requirements of the standard. A fire suppression system would also be ineffective due to the freezing temperatures in the winter which disables the few water pipes on site. (4) The standard as applied to this site provides little to no benefit for underground miner safety because the mine is located in a heavily forested area with trees as tall as 300 feet on the site. The small buildings at issue are dwarfed by the surrounding forest, which cannot be fireproofed. (5) The underground workings are no more than 125 feet deep at the deepest point, and are so small that they can be evacuated from any point via one of 3 routes in less than 1 minute. (6) To further reduce the risk of a surface fire impacting the petitioner when underground, smoking will be prohibited in all areas of the mine, and signs will be posted to provide notice to any third parties who may come onsite while he is underground. (7) The modification to the standard as applied to the Old Smith Family Mine will provide greater safety protection than 30 CFR 57.4533 with respect to the hazard of surface fire impacting underground escapeways by providing an alarm sounding underground as soon as smoke detectors are triggered in the mine office or shed. The petitioner asserts that the proposed alternative method will at all times guarantee no less than the same measure of protection afforded by the existing standard. Sheila McConnell, Director, Office of Standards, Regulations, and Variances. [FR Doc. 2017–27121 Filed 12–15–17; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4520–43–P PO 00000 Frm 00048 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 60047 DEPARTMENT OF LABOR Mine Safety and Health Administration Petitions for Modification of Application of Existing Mandatory Safety Standards Mine Safety and Health Administration, Labor. ACTION: Notice. AGENCY: This notice is a summary of petitions for modification submitted to the Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) by the parties listed below. DATES: All comments on the petitions must be received by MSHA’s Office of Standards, Regulations, and Variances on or before January 17, 2018. ADDRESSES: You may submit your comments, identified by ‘‘docket number’’ on the subject line, by any of the following methods: 1. Electronic Mail: zzMSHAcomments@dol.gov. Include the docket number of the petition in the subject line of the message. 2. Facsimile: 202–693–9441. 3. Regular Mail or Hand Delivery: MSHA, Office of Standards, Regulations, and Variances, 201 12th Street South, Suite 4E401, Arlington, Virginia 22202–5452, Attention: Sheila McConnell, Director, Office of Standards, Regulations, and Variances. Persons delivering documents are required to check in at the receptionist’s desk in Suite 4E401. Individuals may inspect copies of the petition and comments during normal business hours at the address listed above. MSHA will consider only comments postmarked by the U.S. Postal Service or proof of delivery from another delivery service such as UPS or Federal Express on or before the deadline for comments. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Barbara Barron, Office of Standards, Regulations, and Variances at 202–693– 9447 (Voice), barron.barbara@dol.gov (Email), or 202–693–9441 (Facsimile). [These are not toll-free numbers.] SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Section 101(c) of the Federal Mine Safety and Health Act of 1977 and Title 30 of the Code of Federal Regulations Part 44 govern the application, processing, and disposition of petitions for modification. SUMMARY: I. Background Section 101(c) of the Federal Mine Safety and Health Act of 1977 (Mine Act) allows the mine operator or representative of miners to file a petition to modify the application of any mandatory safety standard to a coal or E:\FR\FM\18DEN1.SGM 18DEN1 60048 Federal Register / Vol. 82, No. 241 / Monday, December 18, 2017 / Notices daltland on DSKBBV9HB2PROD with NOTICES other mine if the Secretary of Labor (Secretary) determines that: 1. An alternative method of achieving the result of such standard exists which will at all times guarantee no less than the same measure of protection afforded the miners of such mine by such standard; or 2. That the application of such standard to such mine will result in a diminution of safety to the miners in such mine. In addition, the regulations at 30 CFR 44.10 and 44.11 establish the requirements and procedures for filing petitions for modification. II. Petitions for Modification Docket Number: M–2017–003–M. Petitioner: Klondex Midas Operations, Inc., 13330 California Street, Suite 200, Omaha, Nebraska 68154. Mine: Midas Mine, MSHA I.D. No. 26–02314, located in Elko County, Nevada. Regulation Affected: 30 CFR 57.18025 (Working alone). Modification Request: The petitioner requests a modification of 30 CFR 57.18025, (Working Alone standard) to the routine operation of jackleg drills at petitioner’s Midas Mine. For the reasons described below, the petitioner requests a modification of the application of the Working Alone standard to the extent that MSHA will permit jackleg drill operators to work alone so long as they do not encounter hazardous conditions above and beyond routine mining conditions. In addition, because MSHA’s inconsistent application of the Working Alone standard to the petitioner’s mines results in a diminution of safety, the petitioner requests that MSHA grant a modification from the Working Alone standard to allow miners to conduct routine jackleg drilling operations independently as they have in the past. Alternatively, the petitioner requests a modification of the Working Alone standard to accept the petitioner’s proposed safety practices, described below, as an alternative and equally protective method of achieving the same result as the standard. The petitioner states that: (1) The petitioner owns and operates the Midas Mine, an underground narrow vein gold mine in Elko County, Nevada. It began operating Midas in early 2014. The petitioner owns and operates the Fire Creek Mine, an underground narrow vein gold mine in Lander County, Nevada. Both companies’ ultimate corporate parent is Klondex Mines Ltd. Generally, the mining cycle at both mines involves a miner drilling holes in VerDate Sep<11>2014 17:53 Dec 15, 2017 Jkt 244001 the face, loading those holes with explosives, blasting, mucking out the debris from the blasting, bolting the roof, and repeating the cycle by drilling holes again, this time in a face that is a few feet farther into the heading. For short periods of time during this cycle, the miner uses a jackleg drill for drilling holes in the face and to bolt the roof. (2) The petitioner states that jackleg drills are a routine mining tool used safely every day. A jackleg drill is a widely-used portable rock drill designed for one-person operations. The single leg rests on the ground, secured into the mine floor with a ‘‘claw foot’’ that digs into the leveled floor. For drilling, it uses a long, smooth drill steel with a drill bit attached at the end. Compressed air powers the rotation and percussion of the drill steel and the up-and-down movement to extend or retract the pneumatic leg. A miner opens a throttle valve on the drill’s main body to allow air to flow into the machine. The air not only drives the machine’s operation but also flows through the steel and bit to prevent the bit from clogging with rock and dirt. There is a safe and proper way to maintain and handle a jackleg drill. An experienced jackleg drill operator handles the drill in a way that requires less effort and poses little risk of serious injury. Experienced miners rarely pinch their fingers in the hinge where the drill’s body meets its leg and do not wear loose clothing that could catch in moving parts. Proper drill positioning, examinations of ground conditions, and scaling prevent hazardous ground from falling when drilling up into the roof to bolt. Jackleg drills have been used daily in many mines for decades. The petitioner trains its miners to operate jackleg drills safely and ensures its miners utilize the proper personal protective equipment (PPE) during all steps of the mining process. (3) During a typical shift, miners use jackleg drills for short periods of time and are in frequent contact with others. Miners at the Klondex mines typically work 12-hour shifts. The first hour is typically spent attending a supervisorled safety meeting where miners receive their crew assignments and work area assignments, and travel to the faces where they will work. The miners will typically stop mining and leave the work area to travel back to the surface 30 to 60 minutes before their shifts are complete. Consequently, a miner will generally spend only 10 to 101⁄2 hours of his or her shift actually performing mining work. Some of the miner’s time is also spent away from the working face, to travel to the main heading or supply areas for supplies, to take PO 00000 Frm 00049 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 periodic breaks, to offer assistance to others, or to eat lunch. During his or her shift, a single miner will typically complete approximately one to two full mining cycles, depending on the amount of assistance the miner receives from others, as well as the conditions encountered during mining. Each shift hands off to the next shift; the miner will begin work starting at whatever point in the cycle the previous crew stopped. While miners often work independently, they are rarely alone for long. Throughout a shift, various people will visit a miner at the face multiple times. For example, the crew supervisor (‘‘foreman’’ or ‘‘shifter’’) is tasked with visiting each miner at least twice per shift and sometimes visits more often. While there, the supervisor reviews and signs the miner’s workplace examination card. Geologists also usually visit each heading at least once per shift, typically to take samples for assay and to paint the face before each round of blasting. Other miners, and sometimes the supervisor, may also stop by regularly to deliver bolting, blasting, and other supplies, as well as to muck out nearby muck bays. (4) The petitioner has safety and training policies in place to ensure that miners approach potential hazards and handle equipment, such as drills, safely. Employees must follow petitioner’s Employee Health and Safety Manual’s requirements to protect against injuries while mining. For instance, miners must wear PPE equipment while operating a jackleg drill and may not wear loose, baggy, or ragged clothing. They must also keep their work areas neat and clean. Furthermore, miners must evaluate their work area for hazards before they begin each task. When miners encounter a hazard, they must stop work, identify how to address or correct the hazard, report the hazard, and come up with a plan to address the hazard safely. Such a plan will require increased contact with others that is commensurate with the hazard or, if necessary, ceasing work in the area. Supervisors observe a miner’s work area at least once daily and fill out a five-point safety card with each miner. This procedure further ensures that potential hazards are identified. The petitioner’s robust safety program also deals with all facets of operating jackleg drills and working alone. All miners must complete training and demonstrate core competencies before they operate a jackleg drill. Miners also receive annual refresher training, which includes topics relevant to drilling, such as keeping workplaces neat and orderly, E:\FR\FM\18DEN1.SGM 18DEN1 daltland on DSKBBV9HB2PROD with NOTICES Federal Register / Vol. 82, No. 241 / Monday, December 18, 2017 / Notices performing workplace examinations, drilling with secure footing, recognizing and addressing potentially hazardous ground conditions, avoiding pinch points, and responding to hazardous conditions. (5) The petitioner states that the current communications with miners operating the jackleg drills fully comply with the standard. The petitioner states that at its mines, a miner operates a jackleg drill for less than 33 percent of the miners’ total shift time and that the miner has regular contact with others throughout the shift. Indeed, multiple individuals— supervisors, geologists, and fellow miners—visit the miner at the face, and the miner sees others when leaving the face multiple times each shift. The miner has further contact via mine phones and radios multiple times throughout the shift. As stated above, miners are in regular contact with others throughout the mining cycle. Consequently, MSHA should modify the application of the Working Alone standard so that the petitioner‘s current level of communications easily meets the rule’s legal standard, and miners may continue to work independently. (6) The petitioner states that MSHA’s requirement that miners use a jackleg drill in pairs results in a diminution of safety. It has been common practice within the mining industry for jackleg drill operators to work alone if there are not hazardous conditions present. The petitioner states however, that working in pairs reduces safety because the drill operator now not only must worry about handling and operating the drill safely for his own welfare, but must also worry about the whereabouts and exposure of the second person working with the drill operator. (7) The jackleg drill is designed for one person to operate the machine. It is primarily intended for use where the size and configuration of the ore body or the mining method do not permit large openings to be mined with heavier mechanized equipment. Both the petitioner’s mines use jackleg drills precisely because of the relatively small size of the mining face. By requiring the introduction of another person into a small area during drill operation (as opposed to other purposes, such as bringing supplies or checking geology), the field operations becomes more crowded and complicated and the chance of injury necessarily increases, particularly because the second person is not in control of the drill. This is not unique to jackleg drills; it is a danger inherent any time the number of people VerDate Sep<11>2014 17:53 Dec 15, 2017 Jkt 244001 increases in a small area working around mechanized equipment. However, there may be circumstances under which a second person in the area could be helpful or, perhaps, even improve safety. The petitioner states that both the Working Alone standard, and the petitioner’s safety protocols, account for such situations at petitioner’s mines, if jackleg drill operators encounter hazardous conditions, they must seek assistance from their supervisors or a fellow miner and communicate in a manner that is commensurate with the hazard as the Working Alone standard requires. However, the petitioner states that MSHA’s own data demonstrates that by requiring mines to ‘‘pair up’’ and work within a certain distance of each other no matter the circumstances, increases the safety risks to other miners. The petitioner requests that MSHA grant a modification from the Working Alone standard to allow miners to conduct routine jackleg drilling operations independently as they have in the past because MSHA’s application of the Working Alone standard to the petitioner’s mines is actually less safe. (8) In the alternative, the petitioner seeks modification of the Working Alone standard to permit miners working alone as long as they follow a new communications policy that will help achieve the same result as the standard intends with the same or better protection. The petitioner seeks a modification of the standard that would permit underground miners to work alone, including operating jackleg drills, so long as the miners notifies a dispatcher or other designated contact person before beginning each stage of the mining cycle. The petitioner states that its proposed alternative is at least as safe as the Working Alone standard. By requiring its miners to report in to a dispatcher or other designated contact at the beginning of each of the four stages of the mining cycle, such a protocol adds yet one more layer of communication and regular, dependable contact between the miner and others. Combined with the regular visits each underground miner receives from other miners, geologists, and his or her supervisor throughout a shift, as well as the miner’s own travels away from the face to access supplies and equipment, such an approach reinforces that miners performing routing mining activity are adequately protected. (9) The petitioner asserts that application of the standard will result in a diminution of safety to the miners and that the proposed alternative method will at all times guarantee no less than PO 00000 Frm 00050 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 60049 the same measure of protection afforded by the existing standard. Docket Number: M–2017–004–M. Petitioner: Klondex Gold and Silver Mining Company, 13330 California Street, Suite 200, Omaha, Nebraska 68154. Mine: Fire Creek Mine, MSHA I.D. No. 26–02691, located in Lander County, Nevada. Regulation Affected: 30 CFR 57.18025 (Working alone). Modification Request: The petitioner requests a modification of 30 CFR 57.18025, (Working Alone standard) to the routine operation of jackleg drills at petitioner’s Fire Creek Mine. For the reasons described below, the petitioner requests a modification of the application of the Working Alone standard to the extent that MSHA will permit jackleg drill operators to work alone so long as they do not encounter hazardous conditions above and beyond routine mining conditions. In addition, because MSHA’s inconsistent application of the Working Alone standard to the petitioner’s mines results in a diminution of safety, the petitioner requests that MSHA grant a modification from the Working Alone standard to allow miners to conduct routine jackleg drilling operations independently as they have in the past. Alternatively, the petitioner requests a modification of the Working Alone standard to accept the petitioner’s proposed safety practices, described below, as an alternative and equally protective method of achieving the same result as the standard. The petitioner states that: (1) The petitioner owns and operates the Midas Mine, an underground narrow vein gold mine in Elko County, Nevada. It began operating Midas in early 2014. The petitioner owns and operates the Fire Creek Mine, an underground narrow vein gold mine in Lander County, Nevada. Both companies’ ultimate corporate parent is Klondex Mines Ltd. Generally, the mining cycle at both mines involves a miner drilling holes in the face, loading those holes with explosives, blasting, mucking out the debris from the blasting, bolting the roof, and repeating the cycle by drilling holes again, this time in a face that is a few feet farther into the heading. For short periods of time during this cycle, the miner uses a jackleg drill for drilling holes in the face and to bolt the roof. (2) The petitioner states that jackleg drills are a routine mining tool used safely every day. A jackleg drill is a widely-used portable rock drill designed for one-person operations. The single leg rests on the ground, secured into the E:\FR\FM\18DEN1.SGM 18DEN1 daltland on DSKBBV9HB2PROD with NOTICES 60050 Federal Register / Vol. 82, No. 241 / Monday, December 18, 2017 / Notices mine floor with a ‘‘claw foot’’ that digs into the leveled floor. For drilling, it uses a long, smooth drill steel with a drill bit attached at the end. Compressed air powers the rotation and percussion of the drill steel and the up-and-down movement to extend or retract the pneumatic leg. A miner opens a throttle valve on the drill’s main body to allow air to flow into the machine. The air not only drives the machine’s operation but also flows through the steel and bit to prevent the bit from clogging with rock and dirt. There is a safe and proper way to maintain and handle a jackleg drill. An experienced jackleg drill operator handles the drill in a way that requires less effort and poses little risk of serious injury. Experienced miners rarely pinch their fingers in the hinge where the drill’s body meets its leg and do not wear loose clothing that could catch in moving parts. Proper drill positioning, examinations of ground conditions, and scaling prevent hazardous ground from falling when drilling up into the roof to bolt. Jackleg drills have been used daily in many mines for decades. The petitioner trains its miners to operate jackleg drills safely and ensures its miners utilize the proper personal protective equipment (PPE) during all steps of the mining process. (3) During a typical shift, miners use jackleg drills for short periods of time and are in frequent contact with others. Miners at the Klondex mines typically work 12-hour shifts. The first hour is typically spent attending a supervisorled safety meeting where miners receive their crew assignments and work area assignments, and travel to the faces where they will work. The miners will typically stop mining and leave the work area to travel back to the surface 30 to 60 minutes before their shifts are complete. Consequently, a miner will generally spend only 10 to 101⁄2 hours of his or her shift actually performing mining work. Some of the miner’s time is also spent away from the working face, to travel to the main heading or supply areas for supplies, to take periodic breaks, to offer assistance to others, or to eat lunch. During his or her shift, a single miner will typically complete approximately one to two full mining cycles, depending on the amount of assistance the miner receives from others, as well as the conditions encountered during mining. Each shift hands off to the next shift; the miner will begin work starting at whatever point in the cycle the previous crew stopped. While miners often work independently, they are rarely alone for long. Throughout a shift, various people VerDate Sep<11>2014 17:53 Dec 15, 2017 Jkt 244001 will visit a miner at the face multiple times. For example, the crew supervisor (‘‘foreman’’ or ‘‘shifter’’) is tasked with visiting each miner at least twice per shift and sometimes visits more often. While there, the supervisor reviews and signs the miner’s workplace examination card. Geologists also usually visit each heading at least once per shift, typically to take samples for assay and to paint the face before each round of blasting. Other miners, and sometimes the supervisor, may also stop by regularly to deliver bolting, blasting, and other supplies, as well as to muck out nearby muck bays. (4) The petitioner has safety and training policies in place to ensure that miners approach potential hazards and handle equipment, such as drills, safely. Employees must follow petitioner’s Employee Health and Safety Manual’s requirements to protect against injuries while mining. For instance, miners must wear PPE equipment while operating a jackleg drill and may not wear loose, baggy, or ragged clothing. They must also keep their work areas neat and clean. Furthermore, miners must evaluate their work area for hazards before they begin each task. When miners encounter a hazard, they must stop work, identify how to address or correct the hazard, report the hazard, and come up with a plan to address the hazard safely. Such a plan will require increased contact with others that is commensurate with the hazard or, if necessary, ceasing work in the area. Supervisors observe a miner’s work area at least once daily and fill out a five-point safety card with each miner. This procedure further ensures that potential hazards are identified. The petitioner’s robust safety program also deals with all facets of operating jackleg drills and working alone. All miners must complete training and demonstrate core competencies before they operate a jackleg drill. Miners also receive annual refresher training, which includes topics relevant to drilling, such as keeping workplaces neat and orderly, performing workplace examinations, drilling with secure footing, recognizing and addressing potentially hazardous ground conditions, avoiding pinch points, and responding to hazardous conditions. (5) The petitioner states that the current communications with miners operating the jackleg drills fully comply with the standard. The petitioner states that at its mines, a miner operates a jackleg drill for less than 33 percent of the miners’ total shift time and that the miner has regular contact with others throughout the shift. PO 00000 Frm 00051 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 Indeed, multiple individuals— supervisors, geologists, and fellow miners—visit the miner at the face, and the miner sees others when leaving the face multiple times each shift. The miner has further contact via mine phones and radios multiple times throughout the shift. As stated above, miners are in regular contact with others throughout the mining cycle. Consequently, MSHA should modify the application of the Working Alone standard so that the petitioner’s current level of communications easily meets the rule’s legal standard, and miners may continue to work independently. (6) The petitioner states that MSHA’s requirement that miners use a jackleg drill in pairs results in a diminution of safety. It has been common practice within the mining industry for jackleg drill operators to work alone if there are not hazardous conditions present. The petitioner states however, that working in pairs reduces safety because the drill operator now not only must worry about handling and operating the drill safely for his own welfare, but must also worry about the whereabouts and exposure of the second person working with the drill operator. (7) The jackleg drill is designed for one person to operate the machine. It is primarily intended for use where the size and configuration of the ore body or the mining method do not permit large openings to be mined with heavier mechanized equipment. Both the petitioner’s mines use jackleg drills precisely because of the relatively small size of the mining face. By requiring the introduction of another person into a small area during drill operation (as opposed to other purposes, such as bringing supplies or checking geology), the field operations becomes more crowded and complicated and the chance of injury necessarily increases, particularly because the second person is not in control of the drill. This is not unique to jackleg drills; it is a danger inherent any time the number of people increases in a small area working around mechanized equipment. However, there may be circumstances under which a second person in the area could be helpful or, perhaps, even improve safety. The petitioner states that both the Working Alone standard, and the petitioner’s safety protocols, account for such situations at petitioner’s mines, if jackleg drill operators encounter hazardous conditions, they must seek assistance from their supervisors or a fellow miner and communicate in a manner that is commensurate with the hazard as the Working Alone standard requires. E:\FR\FM\18DEN1.SGM 18DEN1 Federal Register / Vol. 82, No. 241 / Monday, December 18, 2017 / Notices daltland on DSKBBV9HB2PROD with NOTICES However, the petitioner states that MSHA’s own data demonstrates that by requiring mines to ‘‘pair up’’ and work within a certain distance of each other no matter the circumstances, increases the safety risks to other miners. The petitioner requests that MSHA grant a modification from the Working Alone standard to allow miners to conduct routine jackleg drilling operations independently as they have in the past because MSHA’s application of the Working Alone standard to the petitioner’s mines is actually less safe. (8) In the alternative, the petitioner seeks modification of the Working Alone standard to permit miners working alone as long as they follow a new communications policy that will help achieve the same result as the standard intends with the same or better protection. The petitioner seeks a modification of the standard that would permit underground miners to work alone, including operating jackleg drills, so long as the miners notifies a dispatcher or other designated contact person before beginning each stage of the mining cycle. The petitioner states that its proposed alternative is at least as safe as the Working Alone standard. By requiring its miners to report in to a dispatcher or other designated contact at the beginning of each of the four stages of the mining cycle, such a protocol adds yet one more layer of communication and regular, dependable contact between the miner and others. Combined with the regular visits each underground miner receives from other miners, geologists, and his or her supervisor throughout a shift, as well as the miner’s own travels away from the face to access supplies and equipment, such an approach reinforces that miners performing routing mining activity are adequately protected. (9) The petitioner asserts that application of the standard will result in a diminution of safety to the miners and that the proposed alternative method will at all times guarantee no less than the same measure of protection afforded by the existing standard. Sheila McConnell, Director, Office of Standards, Regulations, and Variances. [FR Doc. 2017–27120 Filed 12–15–17; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4520–43–P VerDate Sep<11>2014 17:53 Dec 15, 2017 Jkt 244001 DEPARTMENT OF LABOR Occupational Safety and Health Administration [Docket No. OSHA–2006–0042] Canadian Standards Association: Application for Expansion of Recognition and Proposed Modification to the NRTL Program’s List of Appropriate Test Standards Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), Labor. ACTION: Notice. AGENCY: In this notice, OSHA announces the application of Canadian Standards Association (CSA) for expansion of its recognition as a Nationally Recognized Testing Laboratory (NRTL) and presents the Agency’s preliminary finding to grant the application. DATES: Submit comments, information, and documents in response to this notice, or requests for an extension of time to make a submission, on or before January 2, 2018. ADDRESSES: Submit comments by any of the following methods: 1. Electronically: Submit comments and attachments electronically at http:// www.regulations.gov, which is the Federal eRulemaking Portal. Follow the instructions online for making electronic submissions. 2. Facsimile: If submissions, including attachments, are not longer than 10 pages, commenters may fax them to the OSHA Docket Office at (202) 693–1648. 3. Regular or express mail, hand delivery, or messenger (courier) service: Submit comments, requests, and any attachments to the OSHA Docket Office, Docket No. OSHA–2006–0042, Technical Data Center, U.S. Department of Labor, 200 Constitution Avenue NW, Room N–3653, Washington, DC 20210; telephone (202) 693–2350 or TTY number (877) 889–5627. Note that security procedures may result in significant delays in receiving comments and other written materials by regular mail. Contact the OSHA Docket Office for information about security procedures concerning delivery of materials by express mail, hand delivery, or messenger service. The hours of operation for the OSHA Docket Office are 10:00 a.m.–3:00 p.m., e.t. 4. Instructions: All submissions must include the Agency name and the OSHA docket number (OSHA–2006–0042). OSHA places comments and other materials, including any personal information, in the public docket SUMMARY: PO 00000 Frm 00052 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 60051 without revision, and these materials will be available online at http:// www.regulations.gov. Therefore, the Agency cautions commenters about submitting statements they do not want made available to the public, or submitting comments that contain personal information (either about themselves or others) such as Social Security numbers, birth dates, and medical data. 5. Docket: To read or download submissions or other material in the docket, go to http://www.regulations.gov or the OSHA Docket Office at the address above. All documents in the docket are listed in the http:// www.regulations.gov index; however, some information (e.g., copyrighted material) is not publicly available to read or download through the website. All submissions, including copyrighted material, are available for inspection and copying at the OSHA Docket Office. Contact the OSHA Docket Office for assistance in locating docket submissions. 6. Extension of comment period: Submit requests for an extension of the comment period on or before January 2, 2018 to the Office of Technical Programs and Coordination Activities, Directorate of Technical Support and Emergency Management, Occupational Safety and Health Administration, U.S. Department of Labor, 200 Constitution Avenue NW, Room N–3655, Washington, DC 20210, or by fax to (202) 693–1644. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Information regarding this notice is available from the following sources: Press inquiries: Contact Mr. Frank Meilinger, Director, OSHA Office of Communications, U.S. Department of Labor by phone (202) 693–1999 or email meilinger.francis2@dol.gov. General and technical information: Contact Mr. Kevin Robinson, Director, Office of Technical Programs and Coordination Activities, Directorate of Technical Support and Emergency Management, Occupational Safety and Health Administration, U.S. Department of Labor by phone (202) 693–2110 or email robinson.kevin@dol.gov. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: I. Notice of the Application for Expansion OSHA is providing notice that CSA is applying for expansion of its current recognition as a NRTL. CSA requests the addition of seven test standards to its NRTL scope of recognition. OSHA recognition of a NRTL signifies that the organization meets the requirements specified in 29 CFR E:\FR\FM\18DEN1.SGM 18DEN1

Agencies

[Federal Register Volume 82, Number 241 (Monday, December 18, 2017)]
[Notices]
[Pages 60047-60051]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2017-27120]


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DEPARTMENT OF LABOR

Mine Safety and Health Administration


Petitions for Modification of Application of Existing Mandatory 
Safety Standards

AGENCY: Mine Safety and Health Administration, Labor.

ACTION: Notice.

-----------------------------------------------------------------------

SUMMARY: This notice is a summary of petitions for modification 
submitted to the Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) by the 
parties listed below.

DATES: All comments on the petitions must be received by MSHA's Office 
of Standards, Regulations, and Variances on or before January 17, 2018.

ADDRESSES: You may submit your comments, identified by ``docket 
number'' on the subject line, by any of the following methods:
    1. Electronic Mail: [email protected]. Include the docket 
number of the petition in the subject line of the message.
    2. Facsimile: 202-693-9441.
    3. Regular Mail or Hand Delivery: MSHA, Office of Standards, 
Regulations, and Variances, 201 12th Street South, Suite 4E401, 
Arlington, Virginia 22202-5452, Attention: Sheila McConnell, Director, 
Office of Standards, Regulations, and Variances. Persons delivering 
documents are required to check in at the receptionist's desk in Suite 
4E401. Individuals may inspect copies of the petition and comments 
during normal business hours at the address listed above.
    MSHA will consider only comments postmarked by the U.S. Postal 
Service or proof of delivery from another delivery service such as UPS 
or Federal Express on or before the deadline for comments.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Barbara Barron, Office of Standards, 
Regulations, and Variances at 202-693-9447 (Voice), 
[email protected] (Email), or 202-693-9441 (Facsimile). [These are 
not toll-free numbers.]

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Section 101(c) of the Federal Mine Safety 
and Health Act of 1977 and Title 30 of the Code of Federal Regulations 
Part 44 govern the application, processing, and disposition of 
petitions for modification.

I. Background

    Section 101(c) of the Federal Mine Safety and Health Act of 1977 
(Mine Act) allows the mine operator or representative of miners to file 
a petition to modify the application of any mandatory safety standard 
to a coal or

[[Page 60048]]

other mine if the Secretary of Labor (Secretary) determines that:
    1. An alternative method of achieving the result of such standard 
exists which will at all times guarantee no less than the same measure 
of protection afforded the miners of such mine by such standard; or
    2. That the application of such standard to such mine will result 
in a diminution of safety to the miners in such mine.
    In addition, the regulations at 30 CFR 44.10 and 44.11 establish 
the requirements and procedures for filing petitions for modification.

II. Petitions for Modification

    Docket Number: M-2017-003-M.
    Petitioner: Klondex Midas Operations, Inc., 13330 California 
Street, Suite 200, Omaha, Nebraska 68154.
    Mine: Midas Mine, MSHA I.D. No. 26-02314, located in Elko County, 
Nevada.
    Regulation Affected: 30 CFR 57.18025 (Working alone).
    Modification Request: The petitioner requests a modification of 30 
CFR 57.18025, (Working Alone standard) to the routine operation of 
jackleg drills at petitioner's Midas Mine.
    For the reasons described below, the petitioner requests a 
modification of the application of the Working Alone standard to the 
extent that MSHA will permit jackleg drill operators to work alone so 
long as they do not encounter hazardous conditions above and beyond 
routine mining conditions. In addition, because MSHA's inconsistent 
application of the Working Alone standard to the petitioner's mines 
results in a diminution of safety, the petitioner requests that MSHA 
grant a modification from the Working Alone standard to allow miners to 
conduct routine jackleg drilling operations independently as they have 
in the past. Alternatively, the petitioner requests a modification of 
the Working Alone standard to accept the petitioner's proposed safety 
practices, described below, as an alternative and equally protective 
method of achieving the same result as the standard.
    The petitioner states that:
    (1) The petitioner owns and operates the Midas Mine, an underground 
narrow vein gold mine in Elko County, Nevada. It began operating Midas 
in early 2014. The petitioner owns and operates the Fire Creek Mine, an 
underground narrow vein gold mine in Lander County, Nevada. Both 
companies' ultimate corporate parent is Klondex Mines Ltd.
    Generally, the mining cycle at both mines involves a miner drilling 
holes in the face, loading those holes with explosives, blasting, 
mucking out the debris from the blasting, bolting the roof, and 
repeating the cycle by drilling holes again, this time in a face that 
is a few feet farther into the heading. For short periods of time 
during this cycle, the miner uses a jackleg drill for drilling holes in 
the face and to bolt the roof.
    (2) The petitioner states that jackleg drills are a routine mining 
tool used safely every day. A jackleg drill is a widely-used portable 
rock drill designed for one-person operations. The single leg rests on 
the ground, secured into the mine floor with a ``claw foot'' that digs 
into the leveled floor. For drilling, it uses a long, smooth drill 
steel with a drill bit attached at the end. Compressed air powers the 
rotation and percussion of the drill steel and the up-and-down movement 
to extend or retract the pneumatic leg. A miner opens a throttle valve 
on the drill's main body to allow air to flow into the machine. The air 
not only drives the machine's operation but also flows through the 
steel and bit to prevent the bit from clogging with rock and dirt.
    There is a safe and proper way to maintain and handle a jackleg 
drill. An experienced jackleg drill operator handles the drill in a way 
that requires less effort and poses little risk of serious injury. 
Experienced miners rarely pinch their fingers in the hinge where the 
drill's body meets its leg and do not wear loose clothing that could 
catch in moving parts. Proper drill positioning, examinations of ground 
conditions, and scaling prevent hazardous ground from falling when 
drilling up into the roof to bolt. Jackleg drills have been used daily 
in many mines for decades. The petitioner trains its miners to operate 
jackleg drills safely and ensures its miners utilize the proper 
personal protective equipment (PPE) during all steps of the mining 
process.
    (3) During a typical shift, miners use jackleg drills for short 
periods of time and are in frequent contact with others. Miners at the 
Klondex mines typically work 12-hour shifts. The first hour is 
typically spent attending a supervisor-led safety meeting where miners 
receive their crew assignments and work area assignments, and travel to 
the faces where they will work. The miners will typically stop mining 
and leave the work area to travel back to the surface 30 to 60 minutes 
before their shifts are complete. Consequently, a miner will generally 
spend only 10 to 10\1/2\ hours of his or her shift actually performing 
mining work. Some of the miner's time is also spent away from the 
working face, to travel to the main heading or supply areas for 
supplies, to take periodic breaks, to offer assistance to others, or to 
eat lunch.
    During his or her shift, a single miner will typically complete 
approximately one to two full mining cycles, depending on the amount of 
assistance the miner receives from others, as well as the conditions 
encountered during mining. Each shift hands off to the next shift; the 
miner will begin work starting at whatever point in the cycle the 
previous crew stopped.
    While miners often work independently, they are rarely alone for 
long. Throughout a shift, various people will visit a miner at the face 
multiple times. For example, the crew supervisor (``foreman'' or 
``shifter'') is tasked with visiting each miner at least twice per 
shift and sometimes visits more often. While there, the supervisor 
reviews and signs the miner's workplace examination card. Geologists 
also usually visit each heading at least once per shift, typically to 
take samples for assay and to paint the face before each round of 
blasting. Other miners, and sometimes the supervisor, may also stop by 
regularly to deliver bolting, blasting, and other supplies, as well as 
to muck out nearby muck bays.
    (4) The petitioner has safety and training policies in place to 
ensure that miners approach potential hazards and handle equipment, 
such as drills, safely. Employees must follow petitioner's Employee 
Health and Safety Manual's requirements to protect against injuries 
while mining. For instance, miners must wear PPE equipment while 
operating a jackleg drill and may not wear loose, baggy, or ragged 
clothing. They must also keep their work areas neat and clean.
    Furthermore, miners must evaluate their work area for hazards 
before they begin each task. When miners encounter a hazard, they must 
stop work, identify how to address or correct the hazard, report the 
hazard, and come up with a plan to address the hazard safely. Such a 
plan will require increased contact with others that is commensurate 
with the hazard or, if necessary, ceasing work in the area. Supervisors 
observe a miner's work area at least once daily and fill out a five-
point safety card with each miner. This procedure further ensures that 
potential hazards are identified.
    The petitioner's robust safety program also deals with all facets 
of operating jackleg drills and working alone. All miners must complete 
training and demonstrate core competencies before they operate a 
jackleg drill. Miners also receive annual refresher training, which 
includes topics relevant to drilling, such as keeping workplaces neat 
and orderly,

[[Page 60049]]

performing workplace examinations, drilling with secure footing, 
recognizing and addressing potentially hazardous ground conditions, 
avoiding pinch points, and responding to hazardous conditions.
    (5) The petitioner states that the current communications with 
miners operating the jackleg drills fully comply with the standard.
    The petitioner states that at its mines, a miner operates a jackleg 
drill for less than 33 percent of the miners' total shift time and that 
the miner has regular contact with others throughout the shift. Indeed, 
multiple individuals--supervisors, geologists, and fellow miners--visit 
the miner at the face, and the miner sees others when leaving the face 
multiple times each shift. The miner has further contact via mine 
phones and radios multiple times throughout the shift.
    As stated above, miners are in regular contact with others 
throughout the mining cycle. Consequently, MSHA should modify the 
application of the Working Alone standard so that the petitioner`s 
current level of communications easily meets the rule's legal standard, 
and miners may continue to work independently.
    (6) The petitioner states that MSHA's requirement that miners use a 
jackleg drill in pairs results in a diminution of safety. It has been 
common practice within the mining industry for jackleg drill operators 
to work alone if there are not hazardous conditions present. The 
petitioner states however, that working in pairs reduces safety because 
the drill operator now not only must worry about handling and operating 
the drill safely for his own welfare, but must also worry about the 
whereabouts and exposure of the second person working with the drill 
operator.
    (7) The jackleg drill is designed for one person to operate the 
machine. It is primarily intended for use where the size and 
configuration of the ore body or the mining method do not permit large 
openings to be mined with heavier mechanized equipment. Both the 
petitioner's mines use jackleg drills precisely because of the 
relatively small size of the mining face. By requiring the introduction 
of another person into a small area during drill operation (as opposed 
to other purposes, such as bringing supplies or checking geology), the 
field operations becomes more crowded and complicated and the chance of 
injury necessarily increases, particularly because the second person is 
not in control of the drill. This is not unique to jackleg drills; it 
is a danger inherent any time the number of people increases in a small 
area working around mechanized equipment.
    However, there may be circumstances under which a second person in 
the area could be helpful or, perhaps, even improve safety. The 
petitioner states that both the Working Alone standard, and the 
petitioner's safety protocols, account for such situations at 
petitioner's mines, if jackleg drill operators encounter hazardous 
conditions, they must seek assistance from their supervisors or a 
fellow miner and communicate in a manner that is commensurate with the 
hazard as the Working Alone standard requires. However, the petitioner 
states that MSHA's own data demonstrates that by requiring mines to 
``pair up'' and work within a certain distance of each other no matter 
the circumstances, increases the safety risks to other miners.
    The petitioner requests that MSHA grant a modification from the 
Working Alone standard to allow miners to conduct routine jackleg 
drilling operations independently as they have in the past because 
MSHA's application of the Working Alone standard to the petitioner's 
mines is actually less safe.
    (8) In the alternative, the petitioner seeks modification of the 
Working Alone standard to permit miners working alone as long as they 
follow a new communications policy that will help achieve the same 
result as the standard intends with the same or better protection. The 
petitioner seeks a modification of the standard that would permit 
underground miners to work alone, including operating jackleg drills, 
so long as the miners notifies a dispatcher or other designated contact 
person before beginning each stage of the mining cycle.
    The petitioner states that its proposed alternative is at least as 
safe as the Working Alone standard. By requiring its miners to report 
in to a dispatcher or other designated contact at the beginning of each 
of the four stages of the mining cycle, such a protocol adds yet one 
more layer of communication and regular, dependable contact between the 
miner and others. Combined with the regular visits each underground 
miner receives from other miners, geologists, and his or her supervisor 
throughout a shift, as well as the miner's own travels away from the 
face to access supplies and equipment, such an approach reinforces that 
miners performing routing mining activity are adequately protected.
    (9) The petitioner asserts that application of the standard will 
result in a diminution of safety to the miners and that the proposed 
alternative method will at all times guarantee no less than the same 
measure of protection afforded by the existing standard.
    Docket Number: M-2017-004-M.
    Petitioner: Klondex Gold and Silver Mining Company, 13330 
California Street, Suite 200, Omaha, Nebraska 68154.
    Mine: Fire Creek Mine, MSHA I.D. No. 26-02691, located in Lander 
County, Nevada.
    Regulation Affected: 30 CFR 57.18025 (Working alone).
    Modification Request: The petitioner requests a modification of 30 
CFR 57.18025, (Working Alone standard) to the routine operation of 
jackleg drills at petitioner's Fire Creek Mine.
    For the reasons described below, the petitioner requests a 
modification of the application of the Working Alone standard to the 
extent that MSHA will permit jackleg drill operators to work alone so 
long as they do not encounter hazardous conditions above and beyond 
routine mining conditions. In addition, because MSHA's inconsistent 
application of the Working Alone standard to the petitioner's mines 
results in a diminution of safety, the petitioner requests that MSHA 
grant a modification from the Working Alone standard to allow miners to 
conduct routine jackleg drilling operations independently as they have 
in the past. Alternatively, the petitioner requests a modification of 
the Working Alone standard to accept the petitioner's proposed safety 
practices, described below, as an alternative and equally protective 
method of achieving the same result as the standard.
    The petitioner states that:
    (1) The petitioner owns and operates the Midas Mine, an underground 
narrow vein gold mine in Elko County, Nevada. It began operating Midas 
in early 2014. The petitioner owns and operates the Fire Creek Mine, an 
underground narrow vein gold mine in Lander County, Nevada. Both 
companies' ultimate corporate parent is Klondex Mines Ltd.
    Generally, the mining cycle at both mines involves a miner drilling 
holes in the face, loading those holes with explosives, blasting, 
mucking out the debris from the blasting, bolting the roof, and 
repeating the cycle by drilling holes again, this time in a face that 
is a few feet farther into the heading. For short periods of time 
during this cycle, the miner uses a jackleg drill for drilling holes in 
the face and to bolt the roof.
    (2) The petitioner states that jackleg drills are a routine mining 
tool used safely every day. A jackleg drill is a widely-used portable 
rock drill designed for one-person operations. The single leg rests on 
the ground, secured into the

[[Page 60050]]

mine floor with a ``claw foot'' that digs into the leveled floor. For 
drilling, it uses a long, smooth drill steel with a drill bit attached 
at the end. Compressed air powers the rotation and percussion of the 
drill steel and the up-and-down movement to extend or retract the 
pneumatic leg. A miner opens a throttle valve on the drill's main body 
to allow air to flow into the machine. The air not only drives the 
machine's operation but also flows through the steel and bit to prevent 
the bit from clogging with rock and dirt.
    There is a safe and proper way to maintain and handle a jackleg 
drill. An experienced jackleg drill operator handles the drill in a way 
that requires less effort and poses little risk of serious injury. 
Experienced miners rarely pinch their fingers in the hinge where the 
drill's body meets its leg and do not wear loose clothing that could 
catch in moving parts. Proper drill positioning, examinations of ground 
conditions, and scaling prevent hazardous ground from falling when 
drilling up into the roof to bolt. Jackleg drills have been used daily 
in many mines for decades. The petitioner trains its miners to operate 
jackleg drills safely and ensures its miners utilize the proper 
personal protective equipment (PPE) during all steps of the mining 
process.
    (3) During a typical shift, miners use jackleg drills for short 
periods of time and are in frequent contact with others. Miners at the 
Klondex mines typically work 12-hour shifts. The first hour is 
typically spent attending a supervisor-led safety meeting where miners 
receive their crew assignments and work area assignments, and travel to 
the faces where they will work. The miners will typically stop mining 
and leave the work area to travel back to the surface 30 to 60 minutes 
before their shifts are complete. Consequently, a miner will generally 
spend only 10 to 10\1/2\ hours of his or her shift actually performing 
mining work. Some of the miner's time is also spent away from the 
working face, to travel to the main heading or supply areas for 
supplies, to take periodic breaks, to offer assistance to others, or to 
eat lunch.
    During his or her shift, a single miner will typically complete 
approximately one to two full mining cycles, depending on the amount of 
assistance the miner receives from others, as well as the conditions 
encountered during mining. Each shift hands off to the next shift; the 
miner will begin work starting at whatever point in the cycle the 
previous crew stopped.
    While miners often work independently, they are rarely alone for 
long. Throughout a shift, various people will visit a miner at the face 
multiple times. For example, the crew supervisor (``foreman'' or 
``shifter'') is tasked with visiting each miner at least twice per 
shift and sometimes visits more often. While there, the supervisor 
reviews and signs the miner's workplace examination card. Geologists 
also usually visit each heading at least once per shift, typically to 
take samples for assay and to paint the face before each round of 
blasting. Other miners, and sometimes the supervisor, may also stop by 
regularly to deliver bolting, blasting, and other supplies, as well as 
to muck out nearby muck bays.
    (4) The petitioner has safety and training policies in place to 
ensure that miners approach potential hazards and handle equipment, 
such as drills, safely. Employees must follow petitioner's Employee 
Health and Safety Manual's requirements to protect against injuries 
while mining. For instance, miners must wear PPE equipment while 
operating a jackleg drill and may not wear loose, baggy, or ragged 
clothing. They must also keep their work areas neat and clean.
    Furthermore, miners must evaluate their work area for hazards 
before they begin each task. When miners encounter a hazard, they must 
stop work, identify how to address or correct the hazard, report the 
hazard, and come up with a plan to address the hazard safely. Such a 
plan will require increased contact with others that is commensurate 
with the hazard or, if necessary, ceasing work in the area. Supervisors 
observe a miner's work area at least once daily and fill out a five-
point safety card with each miner. This procedure further ensures that 
potential hazards are identified.
    The petitioner's robust safety program also deals with all facets 
of operating jackleg drills and working alone. All miners must complete 
training and demonstrate core competencies before they operate a 
jackleg drill. Miners also receive annual refresher training, which 
includes topics relevant to drilling, such as keeping workplaces neat 
and orderly, performing workplace examinations, drilling with secure 
footing, recognizing and addressing potentially hazardous ground 
conditions, avoiding pinch points, and responding to hazardous 
conditions.
    (5) The petitioner states that the current communications with 
miners operating the jackleg drills fully comply with the standard.
    The petitioner states that at its mines, a miner operates a jackleg 
drill for less than 33 percent of the miners' total shift time and that 
the miner has regular contact with others throughout the shift. Indeed, 
multiple individuals--supervisors, geologists, and fellow miners--visit 
the miner at the face, and the miner sees others when leaving the face 
multiple times each shift. The miner has further contact via mine 
phones and radios multiple times throughout the shift.
    As stated above, miners are in regular contact with others 
throughout the mining cycle. Consequently, MSHA should modify the 
application of the Working Alone standard so that the petitioner's 
current level of communications easily meets the rule's legal standard, 
and miners may continue to work independently.
    (6) The petitioner states that MSHA's requirement that miners use a 
jackleg drill in pairs results in a diminution of safety. It has been 
common practice within the mining industry for jackleg drill operators 
to work alone if there are not hazardous conditions present. The 
petitioner states however, that working in pairs reduces safety because 
the drill operator now not only must worry about handling and operating 
the drill safely for his own welfare, but must also worry about the 
whereabouts and exposure of the second person working with the drill 
operator.
    (7) The jackleg drill is designed for one person to operate the 
machine. It is primarily intended for use where the size and 
configuration of the ore body or the mining method do not permit large 
openings to be mined with heavier mechanized equipment. Both the 
petitioner's mines use jackleg drills precisely because of the 
relatively small size of the mining face. By requiring the introduction 
of another person into a small area during drill operation (as opposed 
to other purposes, such as bringing supplies or checking geology), the 
field operations becomes more crowded and complicated and the chance of 
injury necessarily increases, particularly because the second person is 
not in control of the drill. This is not unique to jackleg drills; it 
is a danger inherent any time the number of people increases in a small 
area working around mechanized equipment.
    However, there may be circumstances under which a second person in 
the area could be helpful or, perhaps, even improve safety. The 
petitioner states that both the Working Alone standard, and the 
petitioner's safety protocols, account for such situations at 
petitioner's mines, if jackleg drill operators encounter hazardous 
conditions, they must seek assistance from their supervisors or a 
fellow miner and communicate in a manner that is commensurate with the 
hazard as the Working Alone standard requires.

[[Page 60051]]

However, the petitioner states that MSHA's own data demonstrates that 
by requiring mines to ``pair up'' and work within a certain distance of 
each other no matter the circumstances, increases the safety risks to 
other miners.
    The petitioner requests that MSHA grant a modification from the 
Working Alone standard to allow miners to conduct routine jackleg 
drilling operations independently as they have in the past because 
MSHA's application of the Working Alone standard to the petitioner's 
mines is actually less safe.
    (8) In the alternative, the petitioner seeks modification of the 
Working Alone standard to permit miners working alone as long as they 
follow a new communications policy that will help achieve the same 
result as the standard intends with the same or better protection. The 
petitioner seeks a modification of the standard that would permit 
underground miners to work alone, including operating jackleg drills, 
so long as the miners notifies a dispatcher or other designated contact 
person before beginning each stage of the mining cycle.
    The petitioner states that its proposed alternative is at least as 
safe as the Working Alone standard. By requiring its miners to report 
in to a dispatcher or other designated contact at the beginning of each 
of the four stages of the mining cycle, such a protocol adds yet one 
more layer of communication and regular, dependable contact between the 
miner and others. Combined with the regular visits each underground 
miner receives from other miners, geologists, and his or her supervisor 
throughout a shift, as well as the miner's own travels away from the 
face to access supplies and equipment, such an approach reinforces that 
miners performing routing mining activity are adequately protected.
    (9) The petitioner asserts that application of the standard will 
result in a diminution of safety to the miners and that the proposed 
alternative method will at all times guarantee no less than the same 
measure of protection afforded by the existing standard.

Sheila McConnell,
Director, Office of Standards, Regulations, and Variances.
[FR Doc. 2017-27120 Filed 12-15-17; 8:45 am]
 BILLING CODE 4520-43-P