Here’s an all-too-familiar story with an all-too-uncommon ending. An MSHA inspector saw equipment positioned a certain way, assumed that someone had used it unsafely in that position, and issued a citation. A judge then upheld the citation by giving more weight to the inspector’s assumption than to the worker’s sworn testimony about how he acted safely. But, in this case, the mine operator refused to accept that unfair result. They appealed… and won.

Continue Reading Eight Circuit pushes ALJ’s reasoning over the highwall

On Tuesday, the Mine Safety and Health Administration announced a series of stakeholder meetings in August and September to discuss its pending request for information on “powered haulage” equipment. Given concerns that the RFI could lead to further rulemaking, many in industry are sure to take interest.

Continue Reading MSHA announces in-person and webinar stakeholder meetings on powered haulage

by Julia Banegas

How would the Trump administration’s government reorganization plan affect highly technical workplace safety programs, such as OSHA and MSHA? Part of the plan, announced June 21, 2018, proposes merging the Department of Labor (where OSHA and MSHA sit) and the Department Education into a new agency named the “Department of Education and the Workforce.”

Continue Reading What happens to safety agencies under plan to merge with Department of Education?

The Husch Blackwell MSHA team will host a fall workshop on the topic of Defending Your Company During MSHA Litigation. The event will be held on Tuesday, November 6 through Thursday, November 8 in our Denver, CO office. This two-and-a-half day workshop will cover the legal and procedural processes involved in field inspections, citations and ACRI resolutions. Mine operators and representatives will gain the skills necessary to participate in the ACRI process without having to obtain outside legal representation. Breakfast and lunch are included – as well as a networking event at the Colorado Avalanche hockey game on November 7. For more details or to register please click here.

The Trump administration’s recent regulatory agenda boasts that in it, “agencies continue to identify ineffective regulations for revision and repeal.” With several potential rules in the early stages, is MSHA’s agenda on that course, or is it a notable exception?

Continue Reading What’s on MSHA’s agenda? Silica, diesel, powered haulage, proximity detection, and more

As the mining industry continues to wait for any new direction at MSHA to reveal itself, last week, MSHA published a request for information (RFI) in the Federal Register that could be the beginning of a new rulemaking on powered haulage equipment. The RFI covers aspects of both surface and underground mines, as well as both coal and metal/non-metal.

Continue Reading With new RFI, MSHA begins potential rulemaking process on powered haulage

Yesterday we attended one of the last MSHA Stakeholders Meetings regarding the new Metal/Nonmetal workplace exam rule. In case you were unable to attend any of the meetings, the PowerPoint presented at the sessions can be found here. The Inspector training and Frequently Asked Questions document prepared by the agency are also available on the MSHA website.

The new rule requires that mine operators:

  • Designate a competent person to examine each working place at least once each shift before work begins or as miners begin work in that place, for conditions that may adversely affect safety or health;
  • Promptly initiate corrective action when adverse conditions are found;
  • Promptly notify miners in affected areas if adverse conditions are found and not corrected before miners are potentially exposed;
  • Withdraw all persons from affected areas when alerted to any conditions that may present an imminent danger, until the danger is abated;
  • Make a working place examination record before the end of the shift for which the examination was conducted.

During the meeting yesterday Don Vickers from MSHA clarified that if a hazard can be corrected before the end of the same shift it is discovered, then you do not have to record the adverse action in the record. Mr. Vickers also clarified that notifications of the hazards can be verbal, warning signs and/or barricades. Mines need to be sure any barrier clearly communicates the hazard.

Importantly, MSHA representatives stated that citations under the new regulation would not be written until after September 20, 2018. We encourage you to use this grace period to work with your local field office and talk with them about your compliance plan.

As MSHA’s leadership has traveled the country in recent months, one area of concern they raised repeatedly was powered haulage accidents. Now, the agency is focusing more attention on this “priority issue” with its upcoming quarterly stakeholder call.

Continue Reading MSHA Apr. 30th stakeholder call to focus on powered haulage – a “priority issue”