Mine Safety and Health Act (MSHA)
Like the Occupational Safety and Health Act, the Mine Health and Safety Act and the Mine Safety and Health Administration (known together as MSHA) serve to protect the health of American workers. Congress enacted MSHA in 1977 to deal specifically with the hazards faced by employees in the nation's many mines.
- MSHA sets standards for the mining industry in an effort to:
- Eliminate fatal accidents.
- Reduce the frequency and severity of nonfatal accidents.
- Minimize health hazards.
- Promote improved safety and health conditions in mines.
- The Act applies to all types and sizes of mining and mineral processing operations in the United States.
- MSHA is divided into two (2) sections. Each oversees specific regulations, and together they enforce the entire Mine Safety and Health Act.
- The Coal Mine Safety and Health activity.
Conducts mine inspection, investigation and training for the nation's coal mining regions.
- The Metal and Nonmetal Mine Safety and Health activity.
Conducts mine inspection, investigation and training for the nation's non-coal mining regions.
- The Act requires the MSHA to make at least four inspections a year at every underground operation and at least two inspections a year for surface mine operations.
- Other government agencies work closely with MSHA to ensure that mine workers return from work each day as safe and healthy as they started the day.
Filing Requirements and Limitations:
- As with OSHA, workers noting hazardous conditions in a mine should first report the problem to their supervisor or safety committee.
- If the employer fails to remedy the problem, the worker should then file a complaint with MSHA.
- There is no private right to sue for MSHA violations.
- If the employer retaliates for the complaint, the worker is entitled to file a discrimination complaint with MSHA.
Remedies and Damages:
- Injunctive relief is available for MSHA violations. Employers will be required to correct the hazardous conditions or face a shut-down of the mining operation.