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Mine Safety and Health Law

Practice Overview:

Today we live in an unmistakable age of regulatory enforcement. This is especially true for mine operators and employees who find themselves under the jurisdiction of the Mine Safety and Health Administration ("MSHA"). MSHA, like its governmental cousin the Occupational Safety and Health Administration ("OSHA"), uses every tool in its arsenal to make certain that mine operators and their employees are in compliance with regulatory policies, rules and standards. Consequences of violating regulatory safety rules include civil penalties against the operator as well as the potential shutdown of operations. What's more, for serious violations, civil penalties may be assessed against mine employees as well as potential jail time. This can be very frightening to mining operations of all shapes and sizes as well as their employees. In response, we have developed a discrete practice group were we provide comprehensive legal services to mine operators and employees seeking to comply with the litany of federal MSHA rules. Ryan Seelke, the leader of this practice group, has a personal connection with the industry having been raised by a proud miner and having several family members still working in underground mines.

Our central location in the heartland of the United States makes it very easy to service our clients in all parts of the country. Moreover, unlike large corporate law firms, we are able to erase unnecessary and redundant costs while at the same time providing uncompromising levels of service and support. At Steelman, Gaunt & Horsefield our clients are much more than client/matter numbers; they are the lifeblood of the firm.

Some of the services we provide include:

Compliance Assistance

  • On-site visits and safety audits;
  • Identifying safety and compliance risks and formulating plans to resolve such risks;
  • Pre-enforcement training, including supervisor rights and responsibilities training, liability prevention and best practices; and
  • Reviewing corporate safety and training programs, including training plan assistance and advise.

Representation During Inspections and Hearings

  • Advising mine operators and employees of their rights during inspections;
  • Teaching techniques to reduce the risk of assessments and personal liability;
  • Start to finish handling of all aspects of representation associated with MSHA enforcement actions, including contesting the issuance and assessment of citations and orders, comprehensive discovery, hearings in front of administrative law judges and appeals to the Mine Safety and Health Review Commission;
  • Defending and litigating Section 105 discrimination actions filed against the mine operator;
  • Representing employees during Section 110 special investigations; and
  • Defending and litigating Section 110 cases on behalf of individual employees.

Rulemaking Assistance

  • Assisting interested parties in drafting comments to proposed safety rules and regulations; and
  • Advising mine operators on the potential operational impact of proposed rules and regulations.


  • Regularly present at mine safety and health conferences throughout the country on current MSHA enforcement topics and best practices;
  • Founded the "MSHA Unplugged Seminar", an annual free seminar dedicated to mine operators and employees concerning the MSHA enforcement process and current initiatives;
  • Serving as outside counsel for a multi-state mine safety and health conference; and
  • Serving as a board member on the board of directors of a large mine safety and health conference.

If you ever find yourself needing assistance in a matter involving MSHA, please feel free to contact us at anytime.

Community involvement

  • Purchased 2013 Grand Champion Steer at the Crawford County Fair.
  • Mid-Missouri Stealers Baseball
  • Mid-Ozark CASA Program
  • National MS Society


  • 2013 Bar Registration of Preeminent Lawyers
  • Missouri and Kansas Super Lawyers Magazine Top Attorney

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