One mine operator in Tennessee successfully had a citation tossed out by a judge in January when the citation claimed insufficient illumination at a dock but MSHA’s inspector had only observed the unlit area during the daytime. The decision, Sec’y of Labor, MSHA v. Buzzi Unicem USA, FMSHRC No. SE 2015-206-M (Jan. 8, 2016), is a reminder that when a mine operator challenges a citation, MSHA has the burden of proving that the cited condition actually existed.

The MSHA inspector had cited 30 C.F.R. § 56.17001, “Illumination of surface working areas,” which provides, “Illumination sufficient to provide safe working conditions shall be provided in and on all surface structures, paths, walkways, stairways, switch panels, loading and dumping sites, and work areas.” The inspector, who visited during daylight hours, believed there was insufficient lighting based primarily on an employee complaint to the inspector. Read more about the opinion here.