20 CFR § 725.491 - Operator defined.

§ 725.491 Operator defined.

(a) For purposes of this part, the term “operator” shall include:

(1) Any owner, lessee, or other person who operates, controls, or supervises a coal mine, or any independent contractor performing services or construction at such mine; or

(2) Any other person who:

(i) Employs an individual in the transportation of coal or in coal mine construction in or around a coal mine, to the extent such individual was exposed to coal mine dust as a result of such employment (see § 725.202);

(ii) In accordance with the provisions of § 725.492, may be considered a successor operator; or

(iii) Paid wages or a salary, or provided other benefits, to an individual in exchange for work as a miner (see § 725.202).

(b) The terms “owner,” “lessee,” and “person” shall include any individual, partnership, association, corporation, firm, subsidiary of a corporation, or other organization, as appropriate, except that an officer of a corporation shall not be considered an “operator” for purposes of this part. Following the issuance of an order awarding benefits against a corporation that has not secured its liability for benefits in accordance with section 423 of the Act and § 726.4, such order may be enforced against the president, secretary, or treasurer of the corporation in accordance with subpart I of this part.

(c) The term “independent contractor” shall include any person who contracts to perform services. Such contractor's status as an operator shall not be contingent upon the amount or percentage of its work or business related to activities in or around a mine, nor upon the number or percentage of its employees engaged in such activities.

(d) For the purposes of determining whether a person is or was an operator that may be found liable for the payment of benefits under this part, there shall be a rebuttable presumption that during the course of an individual's employment with such employer, such individual was regularly and continuously exposed to coal mine dust during the course of employment. The presumption may be rebutted by a showing that the employee was not exposed to coal mine dust for significant periods during such employment.

(e) The operation, control, or supervision referred to in paragraph (a)(1) of this section may be exercised directly or indirectly. Thus, for example, where a coal mine is leased, and the lease empowers the lessor to make decisions with respect to the terms and conditions under which coal is to be extracted or prepared, such as, but not limited to, the manner of extraction or preparation or the amount of coal to be produced, the lessor may be considered an operator. Similarly, any parent entity or other controlling business entity may be considered an operator for purposes of this part, regardless of the nature of its business activities.

(f) Neither the United States, nor any State, nor any instrumentality or agency of the United States or any State, shall be considered an operator.

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