After mine disaster, MSHA considers new rules

April 26, 2010 by Ken Ward Jr.

The Obama administration’s new “regulatory agenda” for the Department of Labor is out today, and there are a few new items from the Mine Safety and Health Administration:

— MSHA in October of 2011 plans to publish a “request for information” regarding a potential new rule on company “safety and health management programs” for mines.

— MSHA plans in January 2011 to publish a proposed rule to revise its existing regulations concerning the assessment of civil penalties for violations of health and safety standards.

— MSHA also plans in January 2011 to publish a proposed rule to revise its “pattern of violation” regulations.

— MSHA will in March 2011 publish a proposed rule that will broaden what current regulations require as far as pre-shift safety checks at underground mines.  Currently, MSHA regulations require only that pre-shift examinations look for “hazardous conditions.” MSHA wants to instead require what federal law actually mandates — safety checks for any violations of mandatory health and safety standards.

MSHA has scheduled a “Web Chat” Wednesday at 10 a.m. to discuss its regulatory agenda.

One Response to “After mine disaster, MSHA considers new rules”

  1. Thomas Rodd says:

    As I posted earlier, according to MSHA’s preliminary report on the Upper Big Branch Disaster, MSHA needs to issue rules that would:

    1. Streamline the criteria for placing mines into the Pattern of Violations program;

    2. Specifically authorize injunctive relief by MSHA for stopping scofflaw mine operators;

    3. Give MSHA subpoena authority;

    4. Increase whistleblower protections for miners;

    5. Require that miners do not lose pay while a withdrawal order is in effect (this would be so much more fair);

    6. Let miners and the public easily use MSHA reports and data to identify companies that must improve their safety practices;

    7. Require mine operators to put significant penalty amounts into escrow.

    Is the death of 29 people sufficient legal authority and grounds to issue emergency rules like these? I’m not an expert on government regulations, but my non-expert legal opinion is — hell, yes! Then, let Massey show their true colors (and their fancy lawyers get paid more blood money) to challenge the regulations in court. Maybe they wouldn’t win — and at least, the battle would be joined!

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