When federal Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) inspectors arrived last year at two western Pennsylvania mines owned by Rosebud Mining Co., the first thing they did was shut down the company’s phone system so top-side managers couldn’t warn underground workers that an inspection was about to start.
That didn’t stop someone from passing along the news, and now the MSHA is suing Rosebud. Providing advance warnings of MSHA inspections is illegal.
The agency claims employees at Mine 78 in Somerset County and the Tracy Lynne Mine in Armstrong County alerted miners to the presence of MSHA officials during inspections in the summer and fall of 2010.
In response to the suit, a federal judge issued an order forbidding the company from providing advance warnings. Doing so in defiance of the injunction would bring contempt charges.
The court will monitor the situation and hold status conferences every 60 days. The first conference is scheduled for March 1.