In the final days of the Obama Administration, the US Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) released the much anticipated “Examinations of Working Places in Metal and Nonmetal Mines” final rule amending 30 CFR Sections 56.18002 and 57.18002. The final rule was published in the Federal Register on January 23, 2017 with an effective date of May 23, 2017 notwithstanding a broad regulatory freeze affecting all federal agencies issued on January 20, 2017 by President Trump’s Chief of Staff.
Circulated just hours after the inauguration via memorandum to the heads of all executive departments and agencies, the President’s regulatory freeze directive immediately halted the issuance of any new regulations, except those required for emergency situations or to address urgent health, safety, financial or national security matters, pending review and approval by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) or a department or agency head appointed by President Trump. The directive explicitly includes regulations that were sent to the Office of Federal Register but not published prior to January 20, 2017, which presumably applies to the final workplace examinations rule. MSHA officials confirm that the final workplace examination rule has been “pulled back” for review in accordance with the directive. Given President Trump’s commitment to reducing regulatory burdens on US companies, it is possible that the workplace examination rule, which imposes a number of burdensome new requirements on operators, will be revisited. We will update this post as more information becomes available.