West Virginia Law Review

Document Type



By now most people are aware of the fact that the federal government, through the Federal Coal Mine Health and Safety Act of 1969, invited itself to become a party to the business of mining coal. A mining disaster near Farmington, West Virginia, in 1968, causing the death of seventy-eight miners, was the prime mover for the enactment of this legislation. The Act was labeled by one of its authors as "not only one of the most important pieces of legislation of this or any other Congress it is one of the most complex pieces of legislation ever enacted." For all this projected complexity, the law has produced a surprisingly small amount of legal issues for resolution by the federal courts. In addition, the administrative tribunal, the Office of Hearings and Appeals, Department of the Interior,3 while having an abundant caseload involving factual disputes, has been rather in frequently called upon to decide issues of law. The purpose of this article is to acquaint the reader, very generally, with the primary health and safety enforcement tools available to the agency, the review mechanism available to aggrieved coal mine operators or miners, and highlights of the litigation that has been generated.


Enforcement Provisions of the 1969 Coal Mine Health and Safety Act



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