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The Federal Mine Safety and Health Review Commission just concluded that an employer was being untruthful when it claimed that it did not provide advance warning to fellow workers about an imminent mine inspection, taking the extraordinary step of overturning an administrative law judge’s credibility determination and sending a warning to all employers. Yesterday’s decision in Secretary v. KenAmerican Resources upheld a violation of Section 103(a) of the Mine Act, which prohibits any person from giving advance notice of inspections, and offers a lesson about the proper way you should handle such inspections should an investigator descend on your workplace.

The Department of Labor just published its increases to the maximum civil penalties that can be assessed against employers by federal agencies, and it includes some moderate increases in the area of workplace safety. Following an inspection of your workplace, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) may issue citations and penalties for alleged violations of the OSH Act. With yesterday’s news, the amount of these penalties you may face will slightly increase from the previous level.

During the final months of 2019, the Mine Safety and Health Administration (“MSHA”) advised the mining community that it would pay attention to issues involving contractors working at mine sites, noting a disproportionate number of accidents involving contractor employees. According to information distributed by MSHA, 48% of mining fatalities in 2019 involved employees of contractors even though contractors made up only 25% of the mining workforce. As the New Year begins, MSHA has unveiled an initiative aimed at contractor safety and compliance. That initiative has consequences for both mine operators and contractors.

Scott Prange, an attorney in our Seattle office, recently wrote the feature story in the November 2019 edition of the Hawaii Bar Journal entitled, “The Gig Economy and Occupational Safety and Health.” 

On Thursday, November 15, 2019, the Mine Safety and Health Administration (“MSHA”) held the fourth of five stakeholder meetings to discuss the implementation of the revised Workplace Examination standard for metal/non-metal mines, 30 C.F.R. §§ 56/57.18002 (“Rule”). Similar to prior meetings, the meeting focused on discussion of the two provisions from the January 2017 version of the Rule that were reinstated following the D.C. Circuit’s decision on June 11, 2019. A discussion of the reinstatement of the January 2017 version of the Rule can be found here. The two provisions that were reinstated related to timing of the examination and record keeping. 

On Thursday, November 7, 2019, the Mine Safety and Health Administration (“MSHA”) held the second of five stakeholder meetings to discuss the implementation of the revised Workplace Examination standard for metal/non-metal mines, 30 C.F.R. §§ 56/57.18002 (“Rule”). The meeting focused on discussion of the two provisions from the January 2017 version of the Rule that were reinstated following the D.C. Circuit’s decision on June 11, 2019. 

OSHA announced today that registration is open for an upcoming open informal public meeting to discuss proposals in preparation for the 38th session of the United Nations Sub-Committee of Experts on the Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labelling of Chemicals (UNSCEGHS).

These days, Fed-OSHA Area Offices and State-OSHA Plan Offices act with limited DC guidance. That can be a good or bad thing. In the case of NC-OSHA, it's a good thing. NC-OSHA is training its Compliance Officers to know the law, make defensible cases, and not be bashful about issuing Willful citations.

Mass shootings have become a tragic reality in the United States. Recent years have witnessed a number of high-profile incidents at schools, workplaces, churches, and other public places. While the country remains deeply divided about the cause of such incidents and how to prevent them, there has been significant bipartisan discussion, at both the national and state levels, about so-called “red flag” laws as a potential tool to combat gun violence.

OSHA just finalized the proposed rule on occupational exposure to beryllium and beryllium compounds in construction and shipyards by declining to adopt the previously proposed revocation of the ancillary provisions in the construction and shipyards standards. See 29 C.F.R. §§ 1915.1024, 1926.1124. Thus, the agency is delaying the compliance deadlines for nearly all provisions of the standards to September 30, 2020. Occupational Exposure to Beryllium and Beryllium Compounds in Construction and Shipyard Sectors, 84 Fed. Reg. 51377 (Sept. 30, 2019) (to be codified at 29 C.F.R. pts. 1915, 1926).

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