On May 24, 2011, MSHA issued a news release touting the findings of two recent decisions issued by Administrative Law Judge Kenneth R. Andrews, Independence Coal Company v. Secretary of Labor (ALJ May 23, 2011) and Big Ridge, Inc. v. Secretary of Labor (May 20, 2011). These cases concern a company’s requirement to provide data relating to accidents, injury or illnesses during audits conducted by MSHA. In its release MSHA states it “is authorized to inspect and/or copy any information the agency thinks may be relevant and necessary to determine compliance with reporting requirements, including medical, employment and other company records.” But along with MSHA’s confident press release, it raises the question of whether MSHA’s authority is really that broad or is the agency’s interpretation of these cases broader than it should be.
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Reprinted with permission from Coal Age Magazine.