In the past year or so, I have witnessed a dramatic surge in the volume and dollar amount of MSHA penalty cases coming through my office. Not surprisingly, a correspondingly high number of citations alleging elevated negligence and gravity tends to accompany those large dockets; and it is unfortunate that too often, a “big” citation MSHA issues bears little relation to the allegations contained in that citation’s alleged “condition or practice” narrative. This phenomenon is the result of recent penalty increases mandated by Congress and carried out by MSHA, coupled with a reactive pattern of enforcement in some MSHA districts.
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Reprinted with permission from Coal Age Magazine