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Under the Federal Mine Safety and Health Act of 1977, MSHA inspectors are required to issue a citation or order for each violation that they observe during the course of their inspection activities. The citation or order is issued to the mine operator. The operator is to correct the violation within a predetermined time. MSHA proposes a civil penalty for each violation cited. The operator may dispute the legality of the citation or order and/or the amount of the proposed civil penalty and may ask for a conference with MSHA and/or a hearing before an administrative law judge of the Federal Mine Safety and Health Review Commission.

Due to the thousands of enforcement actions each year, mine operators have frequently requested formal hearings and have also sought informal resolution of questions regarding citations and orders. MSHA, in cooperation with the Office of the Solicitor, developed the Alternative Case Resolution Initiative (ACRI) to meet this need in 1994. The ACRI program created the position of Conference/Litigation Representative (CLR). The CLRs are primarily experienced mine inspectors who are trained in classroom and courtroom settings to represent the Secretary of Labor in contested cases. Once CLRs have demonstrated their proficiency in negotiation and litigation skills, they are certified to independently handle cases that do not involve accidents, fatalities, or complex legal issues. Some CLRs are authorized to represent MSHA in administrative hearings before an administrative law judge.

Mine operators may also seek informal conferences following the issuance of the citation or order under 30 CFR Part 100.6. The CLRs in Coal Districts and Supervisory Mine Inspectors in Metal/Nonmetal Districts meet with the operator to discuss the merits of a citation and attempt to resolve the matter before a civil penalty is proposed.

For more information, contact MSHA's Program Education and Outreach Services on (202) 693-9400, or your local MSHA office. (Check your local phone book, under "U.S. Government.")