MSHA issues new pattern-of-violations rule

Washington – The Mine Safety and Health Administration on Jan. 23 issued a final rule (.pdf file) intended to strengthen its pattern-of-violations program, which targets mines that repeatedly break safety rules.

The final rule, scheduled to go into effect March 25, allows MSHA to issue a POV notice without first issuing a “potential” POV notice and removes the requirement that only final orders be considered during a POV review. This means the agency does not have to wait for contested citations to be resolved before putting a mine in POV status.

The new rule is intended to simplify the process and improve consistency and transparency, MSHA said in a press release.

Until 2011, MSHA had not placed a mine in POV status in the 33 years since the Federal Mine Safety and Health Act went into effect. The agency took steps to strengthen the program following the 2010 Upper Big Branch mine explosion and subsequent report (.pdf file) from the Department of Labor Office of Inspector General. The report concluded that MSHA had not successfully used its POV authority because of a lack of leadership and priority.

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