MSHA Law Advisor

Insight & Commentary on MSHA and Mine Safety and Health Legal Issues

On July 17, Justin Winter will present this webinar where we will cover the various types of MSHA investigations including the more common “Accident” and “Hazard Complaint” investigations, and those performed by its Special Investigations Department, such as 110(c) “Knowing/Willful Violations” and 105(c) “Discrimination Complaints.” We will discuss the investigation process from start to finish, as well as the litigation process and potential consequences for mine operators and management.   You can register here.  We…
On June 25, 2018, MSHA issued a request for data regarding new or existing technologies that can help improve miner safety. The Request for Information (RFI), which was published in the Federal Register on June 26, 2018, centers on mitigating incidents involving mobile equipment and belt conveyors at surface and underground mines. According to David Zatezalo, Assistant Secretary for MSHA, “the Trump Administration is committed to the health and safety of America’s miners. Through the…
MSHA continues to request information from underground stakeholders concerning the exposure of underground miners to diesel exhaust. The original notice and request for information was published on June 8, 2016. The motivation behind MSHA’s request for information and data stems from a joint study conducted by the National Cancer Institute and the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health in March 2012. The study examined 12, 315 miners in 8 metal/nonmetal facilities for the purpose…
In a Final Rule published by the Mine Safety and Health Administration (“MSHA”) on April 9, 2018, the agency amended certain changes made to the Examinations of Working Places in Metal and Nonmetal Mines final rule which was published on January 23, 2017.  The updated rules were set to go into effect on May 23, 2017, but MSHA delayed the effective date several times and eventually stayed the rule to June 2, 2018. MSHA sought…
On April 10, 2010, Massey Energy’s Upper Big Branch underground coal mine suffered an explosion, resulting in the death of 29 miners. The investigation determined that inadequate ventilation caused a buildup of toxic gases, resulting in the explosion.  Massey Energy eventually declared bankruptcy, and the UBB mine closed for good.  Following the explosion, the families of the victims directed criticism at MSHA for not issuing a flagrant violation despite the mine’s history of receiving hundreds…
In response to requests from the public, on March 26, 2018 the Mine Safety & Health Administration (MSHA) announced that it is reopening the public comment period to the Agency’s request for information (RFI) related to standards concerning the exposure of underground miners to diesel exhaust. Back in June of 2016, MSHA requested further information and data on approaches to control and monitor miners’ exposures to diesel exhaust in light of numerous recent studies linking…
On February 22, 2018, the Mine Safety & Health Administration (MSHA) announced that it would be instituting a new Mobile Inspection Application System (Mobile IAS) to improve and further enhance the efficiency and effectiveness of mine inspectors.  MSHA believes that the new system will enable inspectors to better carry out MSHA’s mission of promoting the health and safety of America’s miners. The existing system has been in place for over 18 years and according to…
In an op-ed published on March 6th, 2018 in the Wheeling News Register, Assistant secretary for MSHA, David Zatezalo, announced plans to prioritize the collection of unpaid MSHA fines through the agency’s scofflaw program. The MSHA Scofflaw Program was initiated in 2007 to pursue payment of unpaid MSHA fines, and the program is not simply a warning. The Scofflaw Program is an enforcement tool intended to pursue those mines and contractors who fail to pay…
On February 12, 2018, new Assistant Secretary David G. Zatezalo will hold his first quarterly stakeholder/training call since being confirmed as head of the agency. This stakeholder call is one of the first formal opportunities for the mining community to interact directly with Mr. Zatezalo since his confirmation, providing a glimpse into what can be expected from the agency in terms of inspection practices and rulemaking.  During his confirmation process, Mr. Zatezalo mentioned compliance assistance,…
MSHA recently issued a safety alert regarding safe blasting procedures following serious injuries suffered by miners as a result of a premature blast. Despite being positioned a safe distance from the blast area, the shot detonated early without warning, and several miners were impacted by debris. While there were no fatalities, the miners suffered injuries of varying severity.  MSHA issued several best practice recommendations when preparing for and carrying out a blast on surface operations as…