Mining Safety and Health Administration

News & Analysis as of

Mine Fatalities: Causes, Prevention, and MSHA Enforcement

A number of fatal mine accidents occurred in the United States between January 1 and September 22, 2014. Coal Mines - - Four underground employees on foot were crushed by equipment in operation. - Two...more

OSHA Update: Legal Privileges Can Shield Accident Reports and Safety Audits from Disclosure

Written accident and incident investigations, as well as comprehensive safety and health compliance audits, are essential components of an effective safety and health program. Unfortunately, OSHA has often pursued accident...more

MSHA Assistant District Manager Asserts That Competent Persons Performing Workplace Exams Are Agents of the Operator

At a mining industry safety conference in June, an MSHA Assistant District Manager stated that the agency viewed persons that perform workplace examinations pursuant to 30 C.F.R. § 56.18002 as performing an “agent-like”...more

Miners’ Discrimination Complaints: What’s an Operator to do?

Mine operators across the United States are facing an unprecedented number of miners’ discrimination complaints filed under Section 105(c) of the Mine Act. The rise in discrimination complaints can be partly attributed to job...more

ALJ Rules Mine Operators Do Not Have Right to Perform Pre-operational Examinations of Equipment Prior to MSHA Inspection, Citing...

In an opinion issued on December 10, 2013, Federal Mine Safety and Health Review Commission Administrative Law Judge Richard Manning ruled that allowing operators to perform examinations of mobile equipment immediately prior...more

U.S. Health and Safety Law: Inspections and Investigations During the Shutdown

Last night, Congress failed to reach an agreement to continue funding government operations beyond the end of Fiscal Year 2013. The federal government is, consequently, in the process of shutting-down a significant portion of...more

ALJ Ruling on Heart Attack Reporting Requirements Creates Split of Authority

In Vulcan Construction, decided August 3, 2013, Federal Mine Safety and Health Review Commission Administrative Law Judge Gill held that an employee’s heart attack did not constitute an immediately reportable accident because...more

Tracking Patterns of Violations in Mines

In the mining industry MSHA enforcement of “pattern of violations” sanctions can be devastating to a mine operator’s business....more

MSHA Demands For Company Files Upheld By Federal Appellate Court

“Congress has given . . . MSHA powerful tools to protect miners. ...more

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....more

MSHA/OSHA Report - May 2013

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...more

Court Finds Private Person Can Be Held Liable for Negligent Inspection

A private person who inspects a workplace can be held liable for injury or death due to hazards that should have been found and addressed. That is effectively what the Supreme Court of Appeals of West Virginia recently held...more

MSHA Revises Pattern of Violation Criteria

Here is the good news: “MSHA acknowledges…the majority of mine operators are conscientious about providing a safe and healthful work environment for their miners.” So says the Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) in...more

Labor Letter, March 2013: MSHA's Still Making Its POV List, But No Longer Checking it Twice

Staying Off MSHA’s “Naughty List” - The Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) recently released a Final Rule that significantly changes the way the Agency charged with protecting America’s miners enforces one of...more

Judicial Scrutiny, Proposed Settlements and Avoiding Settlement Rejections

In August 2012, the Federal Mine Safety & Health Review Commission (“FMSHRC”), the body that oversees the legal administration and review process of contested violations by mine operators, determined that Commission...more

MSHA Inspection Failures Poised to Increase Inspection Activities

Two recent news items shine a spotlight on MSHA, its inspection corps, and several publicly acknowledged inspection failures. On February 5, 2013, the W.Va. Supreme Court published a decision that, for purposes of the Federal...more

HEALTH AND SAFETY CLIENT ALERT: MSHA Issues a Final Rule to Revise the POV System

On Wednesday, the Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) kicked off its regulatory agenda by lifting the veil on its final rule to revise the Pattern of Violations (POV) system under 30 C.F.R. Part 104. Unless...more

Patton Boggs Insights - December 2012: Litigation/Courts: Kentucky Mine Operator, Supervisors Plead Guilty

A Kentucky coal mine operator and two of its supervisors have pled guilty to willful safety violations in the wake of a miner’s death....more

Patton Boggs Insights - December 2012: Litigation/Courts: Appeals Court Rules On MSHA Temporary Reinstatement

A miner’s temporary reinstatement benefits stop once the Federal Mine Safety and Health Review Commission orders an end to a discrimination proceeding. The ruling last month by the US Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals is a...more

Patton Boggs Insights - December 2012: Litigation/Courts: MSHA Medical Records Demand Raises Constitutional Issues

MSHA’s demand in 2010 for mine operators to disclose confidential medical and business records led to a court challenge alleging that it violated the Fourth Amendment prohibition against warrantless search and seizure as well...more

Patton Boggs Insights - December 2012: Litigation/Courts: Kentucky Man Gets Three Years In Miner Training Scam

A man who passed himself off as a certified mine instructor and lied to MSHA investigators has been sentenced to three years in federal prison....more

Patton Boggs Insights - December 2012: Enforcement: MSHA Impact Inspections

Stepping up enforcement at coal mines with alleged violations relating to respirable coal dust, MSHA targeted 13 operations in September under its impact inspection program that the agency contended had a history of...more

Patton Boggs Insights - December 2012: Enforcement: $950,000 Settlement In Crandall Canyon Mine Accident

The Crandall Canyon Utah coal mine operator agreed to pay $949,351 to settle civil penalties MSHA levied following an accident in 2007 that took the lives of . six miners, followed by the deaths of three additional personnel,...more

Labor Letter, January 2013: Preventing Discrimination Complaints Under The Mine Act: Six Steps To Protect Your Company

The Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) recently announced what many mine operators and independent contractors have experienced for the past several years – a heightened focus on, and tremendous increase in, the...more

Patton Boggs Insights - December 2012: Agencies: MSHA Issues New Guarding Guide

MSHA has released a second guidance document dealing with machine guarding in the Metal/Non-Metal (M/NM) sector. At a stakeholders’ meeting in October, the new guide was described as a sequel to one dealing with conveyor belt...more

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