Bloomberg Law
June 29, 2020, 6:15 PM

Mine Safety Agency Nixes Unions’ Call for Emergency Virus Rule

Fatima Hussein
Fatima Hussein
Legal Reporter

The Mine Safety and Health Administration rejected two unions’ call from earlier this month for the agency to create an emergency temporary standard protecting miners from infectious diseases.

The United Mine Workers of America International Union and the United Steel, Paper and Forestry, Rubber, Manufacturing, Energy, Allied Industrial and Service Workers jointly filed a petition June 16 seeking an order from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit to force the agency to create an emergency temporary standard.

MSHA said in a Friday filing that asking the agency to issue an emergency standard “would not guarantee an effective response to COVID-19, and in fact could have the opposite effect,” adding that there are so many differences among mines—such as size, geologies, and mining methods—and among infectious diseased, that a broad emergency temporary standard would be ineffective.

“MSHA has decades of experience regulating mines, and it knows its needs for executing its mission. An ETS for COVID-19 is not one of them,” the agency said in its response to the unions’ petition.

MSHA’s petition follows the D.C. Circuit’s rejection of the AFL-CIO labor federation’s request to compel the Occupational Safety and Health Administration to issue an emergency temporary standard to protect workers from the novel coronavirus.

A representative from MSHA didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment. Representatives from the unions weren’t immediately available.

The case is In re: United Mine Workers of America, et al, D.C. Cir., No. 20-01215, 6/26/20.

To contact the reporter on this story: Fatima Hussein in Washington at

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Martha Mueller Neff at; Jay-Anne B. Casuga at