Potentially More Penalties? The Concern with MSHA's Proposed Part 100 Overhaul

By Breyana A. Penn

It is no secret that there are often differences in opinions between inspectors and operators on what exactly constitutes the proper negligence or gravity designation of an alleged violation. Operators have, therefore, found themselves fighting to defend the integrity of their mine(s) in light of the blatant subjectivity and speculation that seems to accompany so many citations. Case in point: in 2007, the Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) modified the penalty structure leading not only to an immediate increase in the amount of citations received by operators, but also in the amount contested. While the method behind the assessment process is relatively transparent, the way in which the categories are chosen has proven to be illusory at best - both the reasoning and rationale seemingly differing from inspector to inspector and even inspection to inspection.

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Unintended Consequences or Bad Government Policy?

By Linda Otaigbe

The new Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) Coal Dust Rule, published in May, mandates sweeping changes claimed to reduce health effects from exposures to respirable coal mine dust. The dust exposure limit has been 2 mg/m3 for decades, and great progress has been made in reducing exposures and disease. However, MSHA now is of the opinion that disease from coal dust continues to occur and has mandated that, on August 1, 2016, the limit be lowered to 1.5 mg/m3 (with further reductions based on a formula when dust contains more than 5% silica). MSHA also mandated massive changes in dust sampling requirements that will result in hundreds of thousands of samples collected with a new, continuous read-out sampler device in 2016 called a continuous personal dust monitor (CPDM). Each shift will be measured for compliance, instead of averaging five shifts. Previously, the average of five shifts was used to correct for the known variability and inaccuracy of using single samples to represent the exposure of miners.

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Embarrassing Paper

R. BRIAN HENDRIXBy R. Brian Hendrix

None of us are perfect. In every human endeavor, mistakes are made, for all sorts of reasons. Mine operators and miners make mistakes, and so do Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) inspectors. Human nature, the complexity and dynamic nature of mining, and the difficulties associated with the enforcement of broadly worded performance standards will inevitably lead to reasonable and even not-so-reasonable differences of opinion on occasion.

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Mining Industry Seeks Court Review of Coal Dust Rule

By Ross Watzman

According to some in the industry, it seems like the Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) overstepped its bounds in its latest attempt to revise the respirable dust regulations. On May 1, the National Mining Association (NMA) filed a petition with the United States Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit seeking judicial review of the MSHA final rule entitled Lowering Miners’ Exposure to Respirable Coal Mine Dust, Including Continuous Personal Dust Monitors [RIN 1219-AB64 (79 Fed. Reg. 24,813, May 1, 2014); National Mining Association, et al. v. MSHA, No. 14-11942-E (11th Circuit)].

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To Report or Not to Report, That is the Question

Breyana PennInjury reporting requirements for mine operators vs. contractors

By Breyana Penn

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