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(Better) MSHA Inspectors Wanted

Is the quality of the Mine Safety and Health Administration’s (MSHA) inspectorate a widespread and growing problem? Yes, according to the Secretary of Labor’s Independent Panel assessment of an internal review of MSHA enforcement actions at Upper Big Branch Mine South.

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Sago Ruling Overturned by Federal Mine Review Commission

The Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) announced that the Federal Mine Safety and Health Review Commission has overturned a decision by Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) Jerold Feldman involving Wolf Run Mining Co.’s Sago Mine in Upshur County, W. Va., where 12 miners died in an explosion January 2, 2006. The commission found that the mine operator’s failure to notify MSHA and mine rescue teams immediately after the explosion involved unwarrantable failure and high negligence.

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Negotiating Mining Plans Just Got Harder

By Avi Meyerstein

It may be hard to imagine, but mine operators submitting plans for U.S. Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) approval soon may find they have even less negotiating leverage than they did in the past. As a result of a recent decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit (in Chicago), MSHA’s plan decisions may be practically unreviewable in court.

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How to Stay Off the MSHA POV List

BY LINDA OTAIGBE

For the first time since its new Pattern of Violations (POV) rule took effect in March, the Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) announced in October that it placed three mine operators on its POV list. The action made it clear to all mine operators that the new POV rule is in full effect. Under the new rule, POV status is easier to obtain since mines can qualify based on citations that are merely issued, even if they are later contested, withdrawn or vacated. A mine with POV status is in danger of repeated and costly shutdowns, giving operators a strong incentive to avoid POV.

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What Does Impeding Really Mean? A Look at the New Cost of Getting in the Way of an Inspection

By Breyana A. Penn and Mark Savit

The goal of the safety and health laws administered by the Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) has always been described as securing a safe workplace for our nation’s miners. But the commitment to protecting miners is not exclusive to MSHA. Mine operators also seek to ensure the safety and well-being of their miners. Because of MSHA’s new posture, the role of properly training mine representatives who accompany MSHA inspectors during an inspection has never been more important, as MSHA continues to emphasize the cooperation of on-site mine representatives when assessing liability issues. In stark contrast to cooperative efforts of the past, the risk for mine operators of noncompliance with MSHA inspectors is increasing.

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