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Appeals court sides with unions: No mine examinations during shifts

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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.

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