Escalating Enforcement by MSHA of Prohibition against Advance Notice of Inspection -
Section 103 of the Federal Mine Safety Act requires the Secretary of Labor to conduct frequent inspections and investigations at mines. It further states: “In carrying out the requirements of this subsection, no advance notice of an inspection shall be provided to any person.” Section 110(e) provides: “Unless otherwise authorized by this Act, any person who gives advance notice of any inspection to be conducted under this Act shall, upon conviction, be punished by [fine, imprisonment, or both].” A recent Senate bill would extend penalties to federal and state inspectors as well as all private persons.
MSHA Enforcement -
MSHA has drastically enlarged its interpretation of “advance notice” to include all communications at a mine that would alert others to MSHA’s presence. MSHA has also markedly increased enforcement of the “no advance notice” provisions at metal and non-metal mines as well as coal mines. Security guards at mine gates have been told that they cannot even notify the safety department that inspectors have arrived. “Capturing” the mine phones and radios is often part of inspection procedure to physically prevent notice within the mine. MSHA press releases frequently make reference to this procedure—particularly in targeted “impact inspections.”
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