On December 17, 2015, the United States Department of Labor and the USDOJ entered into a Memorandum of Understanding that details worker safety issues that could lead to criminal prosecutions under the Federal Mine Safety and Health Act of 1977 (“Act”). The Act generally provides criminal sanctions for knowing or willful violations of mandatory safety and health standards, giving advance notice of MSHA inspection activity, and falsification of documents filed or required to be maintained under the Act.
The upshot from the MOU is that a company should make commitments to: conducting regular training programs for its employees; train employees on what to do when an MSHA inspector shows up (from the receptionist up to the facility manager); train management personnel to actively enforce the company’s safety policies and to take disciplinary action when appropriate; conduct regular safety meetings with the employees to discuss conditions found during routine inspections and conditions encountered during the regular work day and also discuss ways to prevent those conditions from developing or continuing; and train employees on potential civil and criminal liability.
Remember, the only difference between a civil and a criminal matter is who gets to your door first . . ..
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