Training to defend against MSHA citations: Alternative Case Resolution Workshop: Understanding MSHA Litigation and Saving Costs

Tuesday, October 8 – Thursday, October 10, 2019
Husch Blackwell

1801 Wewatta Street, Suite 1000

Denver, CO 80202

The average mining operator now spends $20,000 per year on citations and penalties. In this must-attend conference for cost-savings, learn how to reduce or eliminate fines with the added benefit of improved safety conditions. With increasing citations, this workshop will prepare you to handle Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) inspectors and their findings.

This two-and-a-half day workshop includes breakfast and lunch and will cover:

  • Legal and procedural processes of field inspections
  • Citations & Alternative Case Resolution Initiative (ACRI) resolutions
  • Necessary skills for mine operators and representatives to navigate the ACRI process

Tuesday, October 8
8:45 a.m. – Registration
9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. – Program

Wednesday, October 9
8:30 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. – Program
6:30 p.m. – Networking dinner

Thursday, October 10
8:30 a.m. – 12:00 noon – Program

Who Should Attend

Presidents, CEOs, vice presidents, managers, supervisors/superintendents, forepersons, chief financial officers, mining engineers, safety and health directors, attorneys, human resource directors, and any other salaried/management personnel who interact with MSHA inspectors.

Workshop Cost
The fee of $675 includes:

  • Networking dinner on Wednesday, October 9
  • Two-and-a-half day program
  • Written presentation materials
  • Breakfast and lunch
  • Hands on instruction from three seasoned MSHA litigators – Mark Savit, Donna Pryor and Erik Dullea

Hotel Options
If you are traveling to Denver for this workshop, please click here to view a list of recommended local hotels.


Registration is requested by Tuesday, October 1. Space is limited; please register early.

MSHA Fatality #14

On Wednesday, August 7, 2019, a 42-year-old preparation plant electrician with 15 years of mining experience was electrocuted when he contacted an energized connection of a 4,160 VAC electrical circuit.  The victim was in the plant’s Motor Control Center (MCC) adjusting the linkage between the disconnect lever and the internal components of the 4,160 VAC panel supplying power to the plant feed belt motors.

Accident scene where the victim was electricuted
Best Practices:
  • Lock Out and Tag Out the electrical circuit yourself and NEVER rely on others to do this for you.
  • Control Hazardous Energy!  Design and arrange MCCs so electrical equipment can be serviced without hazards.  Install and maintain a main disconnecting means located at a readily accessible point capable of disconnecting all ungrounded conductors from the circuit to safely service the equipment.
  • Install warning labels on line side terminals of circuit breakers and switches indicating that the terminal lugs remain energized when the circuit breaker or switch is open.
  • Before performing troubleshooting or electrical type work, develop a plan, communicate and discuss the plan with qualified electricians to ensure the task can be completed without creating hazardous situations.
  • Follow these steps BEFORE entering an electrical enclosure or performing electrical work:
  1. Locate the circuit breaker or load break switch away from the enclosure and open it to de-energize the incoming power cable(s) or conductors.
  2. Locate the visual disconnect away from the enclosure and open it to provide visual evidence that the incoming power cable(s) or conductors have been de-energized.
  3. Lock-out and tag-out the visual disconnect.
  4. Ground the de-energized conductors.
  • Wear properly rated and maintained electrical gloves when troubleshooting or testing energized circuits.
  • Focus on the task at hand and ensure safe work practices to complete the service.  A second qualified electrician should double check to ensure you have followed all necessary safety precautions.
  • Use properly rated electrical meters and non-contact voltage testers to ensure electrical circuits have been de-energized.
Additional Information:

This is the 14th MSHA fatality reported in calendar year 2019.  As of this date in 2018, there were 12 MSHA fatalities reported.  This is the first Electrical accident classification fatality in 2019.  There was one fatality in this classification in 2018.

MSHA Fatality #13

On Friday, August 2, 2019, a 39-year old contract equipment operator, with 16 years of experience, was killed while descending the main haul road in a fuel/lube truck.  The victim radioed that the truck’s brakes did not work and after traveling approximately one mile down a 7% grade, struck a runaway truck ramp’s berm causing it to overturn. The victim was not wearing a seatbelt.

scene vihicle struck a runaway truck ramp’s berm causing it to overturn
Best Practices:
  1. Always wear seat belts when operating mobile equipment.
  2. Maintain control and stay alert when operating mobile equipment.
  3. Conduct adequate pre-operational checks and correct any defects affecting safety in a timely manner prior to operating mobile equipment.
  4. Promptly remove equipment from service if defects affecting safety are found.  Never rely on engine brakes and transmission retarders as substitutes for keeping brakes properly maintained.
  5. Operate mobile equipment at speeds consistent with the conditions of roadways, tracks, grades, clearance, visibility, curves, and traffic.
  6. Ensure that berms are adequate for the vehicles present on site.  Runaway truck ramps should be constructed to accommodate out of control mobile equipment traveling at a high rate of speed.  The length, width, grade, and approach to the runaway truck ramp should be sufficient for the mobile equipment used on the haul road.
Additional Information:

This is the 13th MSHA fatality reported in calendar year 2019. As of this date in 2018, there were 12 MSHA fatalities reported. This is the fifth powered haulage accident classification fatality in 2019. There was seven powered haulage accident classification fatalities during the same period in 2018.

MSHA Fatality #12

On Wednesday, July 31, 2019, a 62-year-old contractor with 30 years of mining experience sustained fatal injuries when three methane ignitions occurred in an air shaft.  The victim and three contractors were preparing to seal the intake air shaft of an underground mine.  At the time of the ignitions, the victim was trimming metal so that it would fit inside wooden forms and was in direct line of the ignition forces.

scene of the accident where the fatality occured
Best Practices:
  • Do not use cutting torches near unventilated air shafts.  Allow no sparking or hot metal from grinding or torching to drop into an air shaft opening.  Install non-combustible barriers below welding, cutting, or soldering operations in or over a shaft.
  • Conduct proper examinations for methane immediately before and during welding, cutting, soldering or using any spark causing tool (grinder, drills, etc.), especially in areas likely to contain methane.  At an air shaft, monitor for methane continuously, at appropriate levels, including the bottom of the air shaft.
  • Use properly calibrated methane detectors that can detect concentrations greater than 5%.
  • Be aware of potential hazards when working around a shaft opening. Take additional safety precautions when the barometric pressure changes.
  • Continuously ventilate an air shaft until the last moment before pouring concrete to seal the shaft.
  • Make sure all employees are tied off while working around the shaft opening.
  • Provide adequate training on the characteristics of mine gases and in the use of handheld gas detectors, including the use of extendable probes or pumps.
Additional Information:

This is the 12th MSHA fatality reported in calendar year 2019.  As of this date in 2018, there were 12 MSHA fatalities reported.  This is the first Ignition or Explosion of Gas or Dust accident classification fatality in 2019.  There was one fatality in this classification in 2018.

Union leaders call for new MSHA silica standard

Image: NIOSH

Washington — Alarmed by a recent spike in cases of coal workers’ pneumoconiosis, a deadly but preventable condition commonly known as black lung, union presidents Cecil Roberts of the United Mine Workers of America and Leo Gerard of United Steelworkers have sent a letter to Mine Safety and Health Administration leader David Zatezalo requesting stricter regulation of respirable silica dust.

In the letter, dated June 19, Roberts and Gerard cite extensive research documenting the impact of silica dust exposure on the resurgence of black lung. One study, released by the University of Illinois at Chicago in May 2018, found that more than 4,600 coal miners have developed the most severe form of black lung disease since 1970, with almost half the cases emerging after 2000.

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MSHA Fatality #11

MSHA MINE FATALITY – On June 24, 2019, a 34-year-old contractor with 10 years of experience, received fatal injuries when he fell beneath the wheels of a tractor-trailer. Miners were using a bulldozer to pull the tractor-trailer, which had become stuck in the sand. As the tractor-trailer began to be pulled, the victim was seen walking toward the side of the truck. The victim died at the scene from crushing injuries after being run over by the truck wheels.

Best Practices:
  • Do not allow people to ride in any area of a vehicle that is not equipped with a seat belt.
  • When approaching large mobile equipment, do not proceed until you communicate and verify with the equipment operator your planned movement and location.
  • Stay in the line of sight with mobile equipment operators. Never assume the equipment operator sees you.
  • Ensure, by signal or other means, that all persons are clear before moving equipment.
Additional Information:

This is the 11th MSHA fatality reported in calendar year 2019. As of this date in 2018, there were 11 MSHA fatalities reported. This is the 5th Powered Haulage accident classification fatality in 2019. There were six Powered Haulage accident classification fatalities during the same period in 2018.

Appeals court sides with unions: No mine examinations during shifts

Photo: davidmariuz/iStockphoto

Washington — The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit has vacated a 2018 amendment to a 2017 Mine Safety and Health Administration rule that allowed a competent person to inspect the workplace as miners began work rather than prior to a shift – a decision United Mine Workers of America President Cecil Roberts calls “a victory for miners everywhere.”

The court issued its judgment in favor of petitioners UMWA and United Steelworkers, among others, June 11, ruling that the pre-amendment standard be reinstated: Examinations must take place before miners begin their shifts.

“Because the 2018 amendment allows miners to work in an area before the examination is completed, there is the likelihood that miners may be exposed to an adverse condition before it is discovered,” the ruling states.

UMWA and USW applauded the court’s decision.

“Metal and nonmetal miners can now be more confident that their workplace is as safe as it can be before their shift starts, instead of learning about a safety hazard after they are already in the mine,” Roberts said in a June 12 press release. “All miners, whether working in a metal/nonmetal mine or a coal mine, should celebrate this ruling because it prevents MSHA from rolling back critical safety and health standards. If the agency had been allowed to get away with this, there is no question that we would soon be looking at a host of other attempts to reduce safety standards in every mine in America.”

The final rule amending provisions to the original rule was delayed numerous times before taking effect June 2, 2018.

MSHA Close call Alert – Surface – Crushed Marble

Surface – Crushed Marble – On June 17, 2019, a front-end loader backed over a highwall, and the fall projected material from the loader bucket through the windshield.  The operator was able to climb out of the cab and only suffered minor injuries. The operator was wearing a seat belt.

       Best Practices:
  • Always wear a seat belt when operating self-propelled mobile equipment.
  • Retrofit FELs, bulldozers, haul trucks, and other mobile equipment with operator’s seats that provide 3-point seat restraints, airbags, and other technologies to provide better protection to equipment operators.
  • Always be attentive to changes in ground conditions and visibility when operating machinery.
  • Perform work a safe distance away from highwalls.
  • Maintain control of self-propelled mobile equipment while it is in motion.
  • Adequately task train mobile equipment operators.

U.S. Department of Labor Announces Upgraded Data System to Assist Mine Operators in Ensuring Compliance with Mine Safety and Health Regulations

WASHINGTON, DC – The U.S. Department of Labor’s Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) has completed a major upgrade to its primary data system – the Mine Data Retrieval System (MDRS) – bringing increased functionality and more intuitive navigation to this widely used feature.

The MDRS offers a variety of tools to help operators monitor their compliance with MSHA regulations. The system provides access to comprehensive mine location, status, ownership, employment, production, accident/inspection/violations history, and health sampling data. Additionally, MSHA’s compliance assistance calculators – Pattern of Violations (POV), Significant and Substantial Rate, and Violations per Inspection Day – can be accessed here. The MDRS gateway is the most visited page on the agency’s website,

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