Catamount Consulting LLC and Patton Boggs LLP will team up to provide Alternative Case Resolution Workshops this summer in Elko, Nev. and Denver.
Rock Products law columnist Mark Savit, partner at Patton Boggs LLP and an expert in mining litigation and health and safety law, said “MSHA has definitely ramped up the number and variety of citations it is issuing. The only way a mining company can operate in this regulatory climate is to become as familiar as it can be with the MSHA citation process. The risk of being unprepared can be devastating.”
Key strategies can avoid costly citations and reduce a company’s legal and financial liability. “We have partnered with Catamount Consulting LLC, a leader in MSHA, OSHA and work zone safety training, to provide industry experts who will teach you how to deal with MSHA from the moment the field inspectors arrive at your site, through the course of their inspection and after any citations are issued,” said Savit.
MSHA has enacted the second phase in major reforms to enforcement and increased inspections of coal, mineral and aggregate mining operations. Since April 2010, when the enhanced inspections began, citations and penalties have risen steadily.
“MSHA has definitely ramped up the number and variety of citations it’s issuing,” said Savit. “It is clear that MSHA leadership favors more stringent enforcement as the primary way to ensure safety, and they are taking unprecedented action as of late.”
Mine operators are particularly vulnerable to MSHA enforcement actions, as many citations carry penalties that can cripple the operating budget of a mining company. “I’ve never seen anything like this before,” said Savit, remarking on a recent case in which a small stone quarry was assessed over $500,000 in MSHA penalties.
Scott McKenna, a MSHA-certified instructor and owner of Catamount Consulting LLC, agrees. “Mine operators need to know about and respond to any violations on their sites before MSHA does, and they need to know how to deal with citations,” said McKenna. “Ignorance of rights, responsibilities, the Code of Federal Regulations and the ACRI process is simply reckless.”
ACRI, the Alternative Case Resolution Initiative, is a MSHA program in which ACRI-trained, non-attorney MSHA specialists resolve or adjudicate select enforcement disputes with mine operators arising from citations under the Mine Act. The use of the ACRI process has spread to every type of citation except where serious, disabling or fatal injuries are involved.
The ACRI Workshop is a two-and-a-half day seminar covering the legal and procedural processes involved in field inspections, citations and ACRI resolution. The ACRI workshop provides mine operators and their representatives the skills necessary to participate in the ACRI process without outside legal representation.
Attorneys from Patton Boggs LLP provide insight into MSHA laws, research techniques and litigation procedures. Participants learn how to organize and present legal arguments and receive a manual with form pleadings useful in preparing for settlement conferences and proceedings with Administrative Law Judges.
ACRI Seminars will take place August 17-19, 2011, at Red Lion Hotel and Casino in Elko, Nev. and August 23-25, 2011, at Patton Boggs, LLP Office in Denver.
The cost to attend is $625 per person. More information on the seminar can be found at www.catamountconsultingllc.com or by calling Catamount Consulting at 518-623-2352.