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MSHA: No Pattern of Violations notices issued for fifth consecutive year

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Arlington, VA — The Mine Safety and Health Administration did not identify any Pattern of Violations offenders among the nation’s 13,000-plus mines for the fifth successive year, the agency announced Nov. 7. The most recent screening period began Sept. 1, 2018, and ended Aug. 31.

Under the Federal Mine Safety and Health Act of 1977, MSHA may issue POV notices to operators who “demonstrate a disregard for the health and safety of miners through a pattern of significant and substantial violations.” Mines issued a POV notice also receive withdrawal orders, meaning work must stop – at least temporarily – until the violation(s) is abated.

MSHA has developed a pair of online tools to assist with compliance. POV monitoring notifies mine operators that they are nearing POV status and should take action to correct issues. The S&S rate calculator allows mine operators to track “significant and substantial” violations. According to a Nov. 7 agency press release, the rate of such violations fell to 21% in 2018 from 32% in 2011.

Additionally, a January 2013 final rule allows MSHA to consider extenuating circumstances before issuing a POV notice and prompts operators to fix problems if they are approaching the threshold of a POV.

 

MSHA “remains committed to regular and consistent enforcement of the Mine Act – including issuing Pattern of Violations notices where appropriate – to fulfill its mission to keep the nation’s miners healthy and safe,” agency administrator David Zatezalo said in the release. “For the fifth straight year, no mine met POV criteria, evidence that mine operators have become more proactive in eliminating safety and health hazards.”

In a work plan released Oct. 30, the Department of Labor Office of Inspector General states that its planned audits for fiscal year 2020 include an examination of why MSHA has not placed any mines in POV status since FY 2014.

“This audit will focus on the extent to which MSHA has exercised its POV authority and the impact of this authority on addressing significant and substantial violations,” the work plan states.

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