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.

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.

MSHA Decision Pending on the Effective Date for the Workplace Examination Final Rule

On January 23, the Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) issued its Final Rule for Examinations of Working Places in Metal and Nonmetal Mines. The final rule amends the existing workplace examinations standard and contains significant and highly burdensome requirements for mine operators. Since its publication in the Federal Register, questions have arisen as to when the Final Rule will become effective due to a recent White House memorandum.

MSHA Publishes the New Workplace Examination Final Rule

On January 23, the Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) will publish in the Federal Register a Final Rule on Examinations of Working Places in Metal and Nonmetal Mines, amending 30 C.F.R. § 56.18002 (Surface) and § 57.18002 (Underground). The final rule contains major amendments to the existing standards that will impose substantial administrative burdens on mine operators and create new risks of heightened enforcement against operators and supervisors.

Increased Criminal Enforcement for Worker Safety Violations?

In 2010, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) let employers know there was a new sheriff in town. Now there will be a new police force as well. On December 17, 2015, the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) announced the expansion of the Worker Endangerment Initiative. In its announcement, the DOJ stated this was a new plan for prosecuting Occupational Safety and Health (OSH) Act and Federal Mine Safety and Health Act (Mine Act) crimes.

Despite Fewer Citations Issued Since 2008, the Percentage of “Significant and Substantial” Citations Is Holding Steady

The Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) recently released mining industry and enforcement data that reflects noteworthy changes the industry has experienced over the last six years. Of particular significance in the data from an enforcement perspective is the fact that, while the overall number of mines has decreased and there has been a reduction in numbers of citations and total civil penalties, the percentage of citations marked “significant and substantial” (S&S) has held steady across the industry.

Fourth Circuit Approves “Exempt” Classification of CEO’s Secretary

The Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals recently held that the Fair Labor Standards Act’s administrative employee exemption properly applied to a Chief Executive Officer’s (CEO) secretary. Altemus v. Fed. Realty Inv. Trust, 2012 U.S. App. LEXIS 15917 (4th Cir. July 31, 2012). This case is noteworthy inasmuch as it illustrates that…..

Mine Safety Disclosures Required in SEC Reports

The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has promulgated its final rule on mine safety disclosures that must be included in quarterly and annual reports filed by publicly-traded companies involved in mining operations. It also specifies the types of MSHA enforcement actions that will trigger a four-day filing requirement for 8-K reports by mining companies. The rule implements the requirements added by the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act and will appear in 17 C.F.R. Parts 229, 239, 249.

“Broken” Pattern Enforcement “Fixed”

On September 28, the federal Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) issued new screening criteria for the formidable pattern of violations enforcement provisions of the Federal Mine Safety and Health Act.  According to the federal agency, the new criteria are necessary because the old pattern program (from the Bush Administration) is “broken.” The rationale: “Not