Winner of 33 national journalism awards including the Society of Professional Journalists Sigma Delta Chi Awards,
APEX Grand Awards; National Press Club award, Newsletter Publishers Foundation Awards; Magnum Opus Awards.
SIPA credentialed. A member of the Society of Professional Journalists and Investigative Reporters and Editors.

Current Issue: Vol. 21, Nos. 22 & 24 | December 31, 2014

  • Accidents:
    • Rail worker loses arm at Badger Mining Sand Plant (716)
    • Miner Seriously injured by ram car at Darby Fork No1 (716)
    • Two coal miners suffer chemical burns at Rosebud’s Twin Rocks Mine (717)
    • Clogged rock duster injures miner at Onton #9 (718)
    • Silicosis Diagnosed At Elko Quartz Plant (718)
    • After Roof Rock Injures Two, Unwarrantable Failures Cited At Springfield Pike Mine (718)
    • 2nd Miner This Year Has Leg Broken By Roof Fall In Elk Creek Mine (719)
    • Worker Sustains Neck Fracture In Fall At Saunders Coal Prep Plant (720)
    • 5-Foot Fall At Rosebud Mine Causes Broken Ribs and Internal Bleeding (720)
    • Driver Hurt When Coal Hauler Loses Wheel In Wildcat Hills Mine (721)
    • Prairie Eagle-Underground reports 4th worker hurt by rock fall in 2 months (721)
    • Worker Survives being pinned by continuous miner at JWR No7 (722)
    • Attempt To bypass circuit breaker burns employee at Laredo Paving (722)
    • Chemical reagent causes illness at Newmont’s Twin Creeks Mine (722)
    • Contract foreman at Decker Coal escapes moving belt with minor fracture (723)
    • Civil Penalties:
      • Delinquent operator comes up with payment plan in 40 minutes of closure order (723)
      • With delinquent penalties, Ouachita Gravel faces $57,500 in penalties after leg amputation (728)
      • Hidden Splendor case sent back to ALJ; information needed on penalty reduction (728)
      • Speakers at MSHA hearing: Don’t mess with FMSHRC jurisdiction (729)
    • Discrimination: Discrimination case can move forward despite company’s bankruptcy proceeding (732)
    • Equal Access to Justice Act: Patriot contractor not entitled to EAJA fees based on contract agreement (733)
    • Fatalities:
      • Novice miner killed at Zeotech Plant (734)
      • Contract Supervisor dies in fall of load from crane at Bayer Plant (734)
      • Miner struck down by ram car at Highland 9, site of four “impact” inspections (735)
      • Safety Instructions could have prevented death of Gypsum Mtnmine owner (737)
      • Klondex driller was alone at time of fatal entanglement (738)
      • Guard drowned at Crown Hill Coal Facility was intoxicated, W.Vareports (740)
    • On the Move: Williamson named as Special Assistant (742)
    • Private Suits:
      • Evidence lacking for any scheme to shut down Left Fork Mine (743)
      • Ohio court dismisses Murray suit; notes chilling effect on free speech (744)
    • Suspended Loads: Unwarrantable failure criteria not met in crane assembly project (745)
    • Review Commission Orders and ALJ Decisions (747)

    Single issues of Mine Safety and Health News are available for purchase for $30. We accept Visa, Master Card and Discover Card. You may request a copy by emailing us at: MineSafety@aol.com. Yearly subscriptions are available for $625/yr. Corporate discounts allowing copying rights for entire companies are available.

    MSHA hotline for immediately reportable accidents, CPR for any reason, imminent danger or hazardous conditions: 800-746-1553 (call within 15 minutes of accident)

Recent Posts

Commission Won’t Open POV Meeting

In a letter to Mine Safety and Health News, and other organizations, the Federal Mine Safety and Health Review Commission said it will not open to the public the Pattern of Violations meeting scheduled for Tuesday, Feb. 10.

Mine Safety and Health News was joined by Rock Products Magazine, Open the Government, Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press and the Society of Professional Journalists, in making a formal request under FMSHRC Rule 29 CFR 2700.4 to open the Commission meeting involving the case: Brody Mining, LLC v. Secretary of Labor, Docket Nos. WEVA 2014-82-R.

Since 1978,when the Federal Mine Safety and Health Review Commission was first established, the Commission held open meetings regarding cases of formal adjudication. Under Commission rules, anyone can legally go to a Commission meeting, and listen to the Commissioners discuss the cases before them. Under FMSHRC rules, 29 CFR 2700.2 Commission “meetings will generally be open to public observation, including meetings concerning the disposition by the Commission of a formal adjudication.” Recordings of these meetings are also available, and relied upon by many who cannot make it to a meeting.

This is unlike the Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission, which states under 29 CFR 2203.3: “Because the Commission was created for the purpose of adjudicating litigated cases, it can be expected that most of its meetings will be closed to the public.”

This formal policy of openness of the FMSHRC is based on the legislative history of the Mine Act, and was established through the FMSHRC’s rules by the first Chairman, and former Congressman, Jerome Waldie. Coming in as the first chairman, on the heels of mine disasters, and in complete understanding of the legislative history of the Mine Act when it was fresh in everyone’s mind, Waldie wanted everything open.

At one point, many years ago, it was decided that meetings would be closed if they occurred right after oral arguments presented before the Commission. This policy became a point of contention with Mine Safety and Health News, and Chairman Jordan, and former Commissioner Mark L. Marks, who refused to attend open meetings. There is no logic or legal standing to closing a meeting because attorneys, who had just presented oral arguments, may listen to the Commission’s debate after their presentations.

While our organizations can understand the closing of a meeting that may involve disciplinary proceedings of an attorney, we cannot understand the closing of a meeting of one of the most important cases of Mine Act history. We are challenging the closing of this meeting because this issue of POV is so important in its legal, practical and public-awareness aspects. The Solicitor’s Office, MSHA, the industry, the unions, and the families of dead and injured miners want to know what’s going on, and have a clear understanding of the POV issue, and what is right or wrong with MSHA’s rule.

According to a letter from FMSHRC Executive Director Lisa Boyd, it is in the public interest to close the meeting, and the closure is in compliance with all applicable legal requirements under 29 CFR 2701.7.

Mine Safety and Health News argues that the Commission Rules calling for open meetings dealing with formal adjudications were subject to notice and comment, and finalized after comments were submitted by mining companies, attorneys, mining organizations, unions, and citizens, who all wanted openness in this Commission. This openness at the independent FMSHRC ensures the public trust of a system that can appear very broken.

Mine Safety and Health News, Rock Products Magazine, the Society of Professional Journalists, the Reporters’ Committee for Freedom of the Press and OpenTheGovernment.Org recognizes that public debate of the Commissioners can be uncomfortable. However, it is what is needed to assure accountability and understanding of the POV rule and process in this high profile case.

Open the meeting. Don’t hide behind closed doors.

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