MSHA Meaning: Who Needs MSHA Miner Training?
What Does MSHA Stand For in Mining?
MSHA stands for the Mine Safety and Health Administration, meaning the agency that executes the Federal Mine Safety and Health Act of 1977 as well as the Mine Improvement and Emergency Response Act of 2006.
MSHA exists, by definition, to protect the safety and health of miners by minimizing their exposure to occupational (on-the-job) hazards. Both underground and aboveground mines are regulated by the MSHA.
What is the Difference Between OSHA and MSHA?
There's another agency within the US Department of Labor that is responsible for protecting the safety and health of workers from occupational hazards. It's called the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).
The primary difference between MSHA and OSHA is that MSHA specializes in mining operations, while OSHA regulations apply to most private-sector workplaces.
But the question of MSHA vs OSHA is more complicated than which industry they regulate. Their interagency agreement says that MSHA standards take precedent over OSHA standards when they overlap. But that doesn't mean that OSHA doesn’t get regulate the mining industry – if and when there are hazards or working conditions that aren't covered by MSHA standards, OSHA regulations apply.
Who Needs MSHA Training?
It might surprise you, but miner training isn't just for miners.
The MSHA requires new miner training for any person who is "regularly exposed" to mine hazards, either for an extended period of time (more than 5 consecutive days) or on a frequent (recurring) basis.
In other words, most people that perform work on mining sites are defined as "miners" for the purpose of MSHA training, regardless of their actual job duties. It also has to be the right type of mine training – more on that in a second.
There are exceptions for workers who come on-site frequently but never leave their vehicles. And if a worker will be on-site for a couple days a year, they don't need miner training but they also don't have free run of the place. Mine operators have their own protocols for the situation, but typically, these workers need to be escorted and supervised by a trained professional at all times.
The MSHA also allows operators to require MSHA training even in cases where it's not legally required.
What Kind of MSHA Miner Training Do You Need?
MSHA regulations divide mining operations into two categories. The regulations that apply to your workplace depend on which category you fall in, as well as the kind of MSHA miner training you need.
The categories are named after the "part" of Title 30 of the federal code that applies to you.
MSHA Part 46 is for surface mining operations for Sand, Gravel, Stone, Crushed Stone, Limestone, Clay, Shell Dredging, and Colloidal Phosphate Mining.
MSHA Part 48 is for underground mining operations, as well as all other surface mining operations (in other words, anything not specified in Part 46). That includes surface operations mining metal, non-metal mineral, and coal.
The training rules are different for MSHA Part 46 and Part 48. For that matter, the rules that apply to Part 48 training are divided up by the type of mine and sometimes by the worker's duties. For example, underground coal mining requires more MSHA New Miner Training than non-coal or surface coal mining.
Some states have their own mining safety regulations with additional training requirements. This is especially true for coal mines. Mining operations that are regulated at the state level have to follow both MSHA and state-level rules.
How Long is MSHA Training Good For?
The short answer is that MSHA requires annual refresher training (every year).
If you're continuously employed at a mining operation, you have a little more than 12 months from your last training to complete your refresher. You have until the end of your anniversary month before your training expires. For example, if your last training was on June 9th, you have until June 30th of the following year to complete your refresher. Once the deadline passes, you're no longer allowed to work on a mining site.
But not everyone who needs miner training works on-site year after year. If your work on a mining site is sporadic, you may not want to pay for miner training refreshers when you're not sure you'll need it. How long can you go without a refresher before you need to take MSHA New Miner Training all over again?
For surface mining operations (whether they're MSHA Part 46 or Part 48), then your miner training doesn't fully expire until 2 years after your last training. Before that, you'll still qualify for Annual Refresher Training. After the second anniversary, though, you'd need to take MSHA New Miner Training all over again.
For underground mining operations, Part 48 sets up separate expiration rules for re-entering work that differ based on whether you qualify as "experienced."
How Do You Become MSHA Certified?
While the phrase isn't used this way by the agency, mining employers and workers often use "MSHA Certified" as shorthand to describe being up to date on mandatory MSHA training.
The "how" depends on which Part applies to you.
To become MSHA Part 48 Certified, surface or underground, you need to go by your company's MSHA-approved training plan, and the training itself must come from someone with instructor certification on file with the agency.
MSHA Part 46 is a little more flexible in that an employer's training program doesn't need official approval and trainers don't need MSHA certification. That means you can take MSHA training online with a respected provider like us.
We can provide 8 hours of Part 46 New Miner Training online that fulfills MSHA requirements. Then you'll need to follow your employer's training plan on-site to complete your required 24 hours of New Miner Training.
To stay current on your MSHA Certification, you can take our Part 46 Annual Refresher Training at your own pace and from the comfort of anywhere with an internet connection.