FMSHRC to Weigh Kansas Quarries' Appeal

The Federal Mine Safety and Health Review Commission will decide Jan. 8 whether Administrative Law Judge Richard W. Manning correctly decided a case last April in which the operator of limestone quarries in Kansas contended 100 citations and orders filed by MSHA after a former employee filed a complaint were caused by employees' intentional misconduct, and in any case, MSHA inspectors had not penalized the company for them during previous inspections. Manning vacated some of the citations, modified or affirmed others, and assessed a total civil penalty of $11,090 after rejecting the mine operator's claim that its foremen, whose conduct was the basis for the citations, were rank-and-file miners with no real supervisory control. (This would mean the operator could not be cited for their actions.)

The case is Secretary of Labor v. Nelson Quarries, Inc., Docket Nos. CENT 2006-151-M, CENT 2006-203-M, and CENT 2006-201-M.

The commission must decide whether Manning properly concluded the foremen were agents of the operator, that the operator's violation of 30 CFR 56.6130(a) -- the standard covering storage of explosives at a mine -- was significant and substantial, and that the operator violated 30 CFR 56.6300(b), which says only trained people may direct blasting operations and untrained people may be around blasting operations only in the company of people trained in blasting procedures.

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