The United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit (the Court) has denied the petition for a writ of mandamus for the Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) to issue an emergency temporary standard (ETS) to protect miners’ safety and health from COVID-19. The petition was filed on June 16 by the United Mine Workers of America (UMWA), the United Steel, Paper and Forestry, Rubber, Manufacturing, Energy, Allied Industrial and Service Workers International Union (USW) and others.
“We are pleased with the decision from the D.C. Circuit, which agreed that MSHA reasonably determined that an emergency temporary standard was not necessary in light of the agency’s existing mandatory safety and health standards and regulatory tools,” MSHA said in a statement. “MSHA will continue to evaluate the developing situation with COVID-19, enforce the law, and offer guidance to mine operators and miners to keep America’s mines safe.”
The National Mining Association (NMA) was joined by other trade associations that filed an amicus brief with the court.
In denying the petition, the court wrote,“MSHA has determined that its existing mandatory safety and health standards, coupled with other regulatory tools, are sufficiently broad to allow it to require mine operators to take steps specific at each mine to abate a variety of health hazards, including COVID-19.”
The court denied a similar petition from the American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO) to issue an emergency standard to protect employees who work in industries regulated by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), which made the decision not to issue an emergency standard. In the AFL-CIO case, the court said, “the OSHA reasonably determined that an ETS is not necessary at this time.”