Summary: H.R.1903 — 115th Congress (2017-2018)All Information (Except Text)

There is one summary for H.R.1903. Bill summaries are authored by CRS.

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Introduced in House (04/05/2017)

Robert C. Byrd Mine Safety Protection Act of 2017

This bill amends the Federal Mine Safety and Health Act of 1977 to revise requirements governing: (1) investigations of mine accidents; (2) miners' rights and protections (e.g., whistle-blower rights and protections); (3) mine health and safety standards; (4) underground coal mines; and (5) health and safety training for miners.

The Department of Labor, when investigating coal or other mines, must: (1) determine why an accident occurred and whether there were violations of law, mandatory health and safety standards, or other requirements; (2) refer to the Department of Justice cases involving violations of federal criminal law; and (3) make recommendations to avoid a recurrence of an accident. The bill requires independent investigation of a mine accident under certain circumstances.

The bill expands Labor's enforcement authority, including by requiring Labor to: (1) revoke the approval of mine operators' plans or programs based on certain criteria, and (2) order mine operators to withdraw all persons from a mine until Labor approves a new plan. The bill revises civil and criminal penalties, including by subjecting a mine operator who knowingly violates health or safety standards to a felony punishable by up to five years in prison and a $1 million fine.

The bill also expands whistle-blower rights and protections, including by: (1) giving miners' rights and protections to all employees of a mine, and (2) prohibiting discrimination against those employees for refusing to perform duties if they have a good-faith and reasonable belief that their duties pose a safety or health hazard.

Underground coal mines operators must: (1) implement a communication program to brief miners of current mine conditions, and (2) install atmospheric monitoring systems.