American Rescue Plan Act Signed: Details on the Latest COVID-19 Relief Package

On March 11, 2021, President Joe Biden signed into law the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021—a $1.9 trillion economic relief package. While the legislation marks the first major legislative victory for President Biden and the administration, it is the sixth federal legislative relief package aimed at addressing the COVID-19 pandemic and its economic fallout. The legislation continues some programs established in these previous efforts, but it also adds some important components. Set forth below are some of the major provisions of the American Rescue Plan Act.

Eleventh Circuit Affirms Validity of MSHA’s 2017 Workplace Examination Final Rule

In a challenge to the U.S. Department of Labor’s Mine Safety and Health Administration’s (MSHA) 2017 final rule expanding the workplace examination requirements at 30 C.F.R. §§ 56.18002 (Surface) and 57.18002 (Underground), the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit found that the final rule had been promulgated and issued appropriately and denied the petition for review.

Executive Order on COVID-19—Vague Regarding MSHA

On January 21, 2021, President Joseph R. Biden Jr. signed an executive order directing the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) to take certain actions to address worker safety and health with regard to COVID-19. The executive order says much less about what the U.S. Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) should do with respect to mining worksites, largely leaving it to MSHA to set its own course in addressing the pandemic.

MSHA Annual Inflation Adjustment to Civil Penalties

Annually in mid-January, the U.S. Department of Labor’s Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) adjusts its civil penalty assessments, in accordance with the inflation adjustment provisions of the Federal Civil Penalties Inflation Adjustment Act of 1990, as amended by the Federal Civil Penalties Inflation Adjustment Improvements Act of 2015. This year the adjustments resulted in the following increases in minimum and maximum civil penalties for certain types of citations and orders. These new penalties affect violations for which the penalty is assessed after January 15, 2021.

MSHA to Hold Public Meeting on Respirable Silica RFI

The U.S. Department of Labor’s Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) announced today that it would hold a public meeting on its recent Request for Information (RFI) on Respirable Silica (Quartz). That RFI, published on August 29, 2019, requests that stakeholders provide, by October 28, 2019, “information and data on feasible best practices” to protect miners from quartz in respirable dust.

Court Rejects MSHA’s Revisions to Workplace Examination Rule

Due to a recent court decision, metal/nonmetal mine operators are again facing the possibility of having to comply with two of the more onerous provisions of the Mine Safety and Health Administration’s (MSHA) workplace examination rule, 30 C.F.R. §§ 56.18002, 57.18002, as it was originally issued in 2017. Those provisions concern the timing of when the examination must be performed and what adverse conditions must be recorded on the examination record.

MSHA’s First Quarter Stakeholder Call Emphasizes Powered Haulage Training and Showcases Improvements to Mine Data Retrieval System

The Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) held its quarterly stakeholder call on May 2, 2019. MSHA began the discussion by reviewing the five fatalities that occurred in the first quarter of 2019. The agency then discussed best practices to prevent injuries in the event of a mobile equipment fire and reviewed upcoming training opportunities.

Federal Mine Safety and Health Review Commissioners Confirmed

The Federal Mine Safety and Health Review Commission is back in business as it will soon have a quorum again to decide cases. The Commission plays an important role in mine safety and health law. The Commission establishes precedential case law when it decides appeals of administrative law judge decisions in Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) cases, including citation contests and discrimination cases.

Unions Challenge MSHA’s New Workplace Exam Rule for Metal and Nonmetal Mines

On March 12, 2019, a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit heard oral argument in United Steel, Paper and Forestry, Rubber, Manufacturing, Energy, Allied Industrial and Service Workers International Union  v. Mine Safety and Health Administration, USCA Case No. 18-1116.

MSHA Weighs in on the Future of Autonomous Mining Equipment

The safety and health committee of the Nevada Mining Association (NMA) recently met with top Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) officials to discuss the safety of Nevada’s underground and surface metal/nonmetal mining operations.

MSHA’s Latest Stakeholder Call: The Latest on Fire Suppression System and Powered Haulage Safety Initiatives

On October 16, 2018, the Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) conducted a quarterly stakeholder conference call. Among the topics highlighted by MSHA were vehicle fire safety, in light of recent accidents in which fire suppression systems allegedly failed to function as intended, and a renewed emphasis on conveyor safety, which is part of MSHA’s powered haulage safety initiative.