A mine operator that disagrees with MSHA and does not receive
relief at a MSHA conference can contest MSHA's enforcement action before the Federal Mine Safety and Health Review
Commission (FMSHRC). The FMSHRC is an independent federal agency, not a federal court. However, the FMSHRC functions
much like a court and issues decisions after trial-like hearings conducted by FMSHRC administrative law judges.
Certain FMSHRC ALJ decisions are reviewed by the Review Commission. Decisions of the Review Commission can be
appealed to the United States Court of Appeals. Mine Safety and Health Network members have access to all
prior FMSHRC decisions, an analysis of FMSHRC practice and procedure and summaries of current FMSHRC decisions.
Mine Safety Law
If you are looking for a lawyer to represent your company against MSHA, please check our mine safety lawyer directory.
Because the Federal Mine Safety and Health Review Commission functions much like a court, it has developed rules of procedures that are applicable in FMSHRC proceedings. 29 C.F.R. 2700. The FMSHRC is currently considering revisions to these rules. Mine Safety and Health Network members have access to a practice guide that analyzes FMSHRC practice and procedure, including the potential for the recovery of attorney's fees under the Equal Access to Justice Act.
Even though FMSHRC proceedings are similar to court proceedings, the Federal Mine Safety and Health Review Commission does not require that a mine operator be represented by an attorney. The FMSHRC's rules expressly permit an owner, partner, officer or employee to represent a mine operator in a FMSHRC proceeding. 29 C.F.R. 2700.3. It is common for safety managers to represent mine operators before the FMSHRC. Even though legal counsel is not required in FMSHRC proceedings, many mine operators choose to be represented by a mine safety attorney with prior MSHA experience. Regardless of whether a mine operator or mining contractor is represented by a mine safety lawyer, a general practice attorney or a company employee with health and safety expertise, the MSHA Treatise and Mine Safety Law Search give Mine Safety and Health Network members an edge in FMSHRC contests.