MSHA HAS JURISDICTION OVER GARAGE – A MILE AWAY FROM QUARRY

Noelle Holladay True (true@rwktlaw.com)

In a recent decision under the Mine Act, an Administrative Law Judge extended jurisdiction to the Mine Safety and Health Administration (“MSHA”) over a garage used for equipment storage and repairs that is located a mile away from Brdaric Excavating Inc.’s Buck Mountain Quarry in Luzerne, Pennsylvania.  MSHA was initially denied entry by the owner, but later conducted an inspection of the garage and issued six citations.  The operator contested MSHA’s jurisdiction over the garage, but did not deny the violations.

The parties stipulated that at the time of the inspection, most of the equipment and vehicles stored at the garage were not used at the quarry, but were instead used on other non-mining-related job sites.  However, since some quarry equipment was stored and repaired at the garage, the judge held that it was a “facility used in mineral extraction and milling.”  The distance of one mile between the garage and the quarry was considered minimal and irrelevant.

The judge also held that the fact that the garage was under separate ownership from the quarry was not relevant to the issue of whether the garage qualifies as a “mine” under the Mine Act.  Finally, the company had fair notice of MSHA’s jurisdiction since the agency attempted to inspect the garage in 2008, and was told the company would no longer use the garage to repair any mining-related equipment.

Secretary v. Brdaric Excavating Inc., Case No. PENN 2012-313-M (Feb. 2016) (ALJ Lewis).

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