On February 4,the Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) issued a new Procedure Instruction Letter (PIL) to its District Managers and Conference and Litigation Representatives (CLR’s) which will have the effect of restricting operators’ rights to informal conferences. The letter is a little bit difficult to understand (more on that later) but it apparently says that, while the District Managers and CLR’s are only required to conduct informal conferences where the citation involved alleges either an unwarrantable failure (a Section 104(d) citation or order) or where the citation alleges high negligence, they should not allow conferences on any other citations. It goes on to say that any pending requests for conferences on Section 104(a) citations that do not allege high negligence should be denied. Notwithstanding that, the PIL goes on to say that District Managers and CLR’s have discretion to hold informal conferences regarding any citation if they choose to do so. This immediately raises a number of questions.
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Reprinted with permission from Coal Age Magazine