Court halts aggregate operator’s MSHA inspector sandbagging

Sources: Mine Safety and Health Administration; CP staff

A federal district court judge issued an injunction to prevent Missouri’s Partridge Sand & Gravel Inc. from stopping Mine Safety and Health Administration representatives from completing workplace inspections. The action addresses an August 2021 incident where owner Westley Partridge used loading equipment filled with rock and dirt to force MSHA inspectors’ vehicle off the road, then verbally harassed them before ordering them off the property. 

The Department of Labor’s Office of the Solicitor filed suit in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Missouri to ensure MSHA inspectors had access to the Partridge S&G mine. The producer allowed the inspectors to perform their duties in January, weeks after being served a complaint by the U.S. Marshal Service. Partridge S&G also agreed to a consent judgment last month barring it from “threatening, harassing, or intimidating an MSHA inspector carrying out the provisions of the Federal Mine Safety and Health Act of 1977.”

“Congress mandated regular Mine Safety and Health Administration inspections to protect the health and safety of our nation’s miners. We will not allow mine operators to prevent the U.S. Department of Labor from doing its vital work,” says Solicitor of Labor Seema Nanda. 

“To perform our agency’s critical work and protect the nation’s miners, our inspectors need access to all mine operations,” adds Acting Assistant Secretary for Mine Safety and Health Jeanette Galanis. “The actions of the U.S. Department of Labor make clear that the department will not tolerate mine operators who unlawfully prevent safety inspectors from doing their job.”