The legal basis of interference is in Section 105(c)(1) of the Federal Mine Safety and Health Act (“Mine Act”) - “No person shall discharge or in any manner discriminate against . . . or otherwise interfere with the exercise of the statutory rights of any miner.” 30 U.S.C. §815(c)(1). The interference test has developed into a two-part evaluation of an operator’s reaction to protected activity or treatment of miners’ rights. The real question is whether MSHA must show if an operator’s actions were motivated by protected activity or were intended to interfere with miners’ rights to establish an interference claim.
Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 (OSH Act), employers have a right to be given the opportunity to accompany an OSHA compliance safety and health officer (CSHO) during an inspection of the workplace.
The Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) has launched a pilot program for Part 100 conferencing in the hopes of reducing the number of contested citations. Under the pilot program, which will run from April 1 – June 30, 2019, MSHA will hold conferences with operators with the understanding that the goal of the conference is to reach a negotiated settlement before the contest process begins. During the conference, the operator and MSHA would negotiate both paper changes and penalty amounts for all citations conferenced. If a resolution is reached, both parties would sign an agreement indicating the terms of the settlement and that the operator agrees not to contest the citations or assessments before the Federal Mine Safety and Health Review Commission (“FMSHRC”). If a settlement is not reached, the operator would retain its contest rights before the FMSHRC. The pilot program applies only to 104(a) citations that are not subject to a special assessment.
As you may have seen in the news, an anticipated first all-female astronaut spacewalk had to be cancelled because the International Space Station did not have the appropriate sized space suits for both of the female astronauts (Anne McClain and Christina Koch) to conduct the spacewalk together. Ultimately, Koch conducted the space walk with the male astronaut (Nick Hague). According to NASA, the astronauts trained with various sized space suits, but the effect of microgravity changed the sizing preferences once in space. An ill-fitting space suit would make the job more difficult, but could also present safety concerns.