The Department of Labor’s Inspector General (IG) set out to answer a very specific question: Have MSHA’s civil penalties deterred unsafe mine operations? That seems like a fair question, given that MSHA has assessed more than $1 billion and collected more than $800 million in civil monetary penalties since 2000.


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When medical marijuana first started to become legal, mine operators responded in a similar way. Most mines continue to have a zero tolerance policy for both applicants and current employees for several good reasons. But, as local legalization spreads across the country, state laws and recent court decisions are creating challenges for employers.


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According to MSHA Assistant Secretary David Zatezalo, MSHA is working to “put the ‘H’ back in ‘MSHA.’” He told Congress over the summer that he is “paying close attention to the ‘H’ in MSHA: miners’ health.” He emphasized that MSHA will “aggressively enforce existing standards to ensure that operators protect miners from exposure to respirable dust and quartz.”


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What test should a court apply when reviewing a claim that a mine operator discriminated against or interfered with a miner’s rights under Section 105(c) of the Mine Act? Recent Commission and Supreme Court cases, as well as a fully-staffed Mine Safety and Health Review Commission offer cautious signs of optimism for the industry.

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Just before the Labor Day holiday, the Mine Safety and Health Administration published a long-expected silica request for information (RFI) on possible further regulatory action to address silica (most often found as quartz) in workplaces. From past statements by current MSHA officials and the text of the RFI, it remains unclear how fast or how far MSHA may go in further the regulating exposures to one of the most commonly-found elements on Earth.

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The average mining operator now spends $20,000 per year on citations and penalties. In this must-attend conference for cost-savings, learn how to reduce or eliminate fines with the added benefit of improved safety conditions. With increasing citations, this workshop will prepare you to handle Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) inspectors and their findings.

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