MSHA finally has a new leader.  On March 29, 2022, the U.S. Senate confirmed by voice vote Christopher Williamson (Williamson) as Assistant Secretary for the Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) at the Department of Labor. Williamson most recently has held the position of Senior Counsel to Chairman Lauren McFerran of the National Labor Relations

MSHA has announced a new campaign focusing on mine operators’ obligations to ensure that miners are fully trained and able to take time to follow best safety practices. To that end, MSHA is providing resources on powered haulage, rib and roof falls, fire suppression, and lockout/tagout.  Mines should expect increased enforcement around training about these

President Biden has nominated Christopher Williamson for the position of Assistant Secretary for Mine Safety and Health.  The White House statement on the nominee states Mr. Williamson is a “native of the coalfields of southern West Virginia,” though he has no known mining experience.

Mr. Williamson graduated from law school approximately 11 years ago and

On September 9, 2021, MSHA expects to publish a Proposed Rule requiring mine operators to develop and implement written safety programs for their powered haulage equipment used at surface mines and surface areas of underground mines (“surface mobile equipment”).

What mines and equipment does the Proposed Rule cover? 
Continue Reading MSHA Proposes a Requirement for Written Safety Programs for Surface Mobile Equipment

Partner Brian Hendrix has published an article for Rock Products explaining MSHA’s focus on Power Haulage Safety. Brian examines the best practices provided by MSHA and offers advice to quarry operators looking to develop and implement a mine-specific plan for powered haulage safety.

For more information, read the article here.

One year into the pandemic, MSHA has released new guidance to help miners and operators identify the risks of being exposed to COVID-19 at work and to help them determine appropriate control measures to reduce the risk of contracting the virus.   During a stakeholder call on March 3, 2021, Jeannette Galanis, MSHA’s new Deputy Assistant Secretary for Policy, acknowledged that many mine operators already have rules addressing COVID-19 mitigation.   It was made clear on the call that this guidance was advisory in nature.  However, agency representatives said they were still considering the need for an Emergency Temporary Standard addressing COVID-19 mitigation.
Continue Reading MSHA Announces New Guidelines on Mitigating and Preventing the Spread of COVID-19

The current system of mine safety and health regulation is at a crossroads. More than 40 years after the passage of the Mine Act, the mining industry has changed significantly, but the government regulatory system has not. Where have they diverged and what solutions could make a difference?

Continue Reading With changing mine safety problems, why not different MSHA solutions?

Today the House Subcommittee on Health, Employment, Labor, and Pension and the Subcommittee on Workforce Protections held a joint hearing on how the opioid epidemic is affecting workplaces and communities. Members heard about how employers are impacted by the epidemic and how they are addressing opioid misuse via workplace drug testing. Witnesses discussed how employers