MSHA issues new POV criteria

September 30, 2010

The Mine Safety and Health Administration this week released new screening criteria to determine whether a mine has exhibited a pattern of violations.

The move is part of the agency's effort to overhaul the POV program and follow calls for reform from Congress and the Department of Labor's Office of Inspector General.

Mine operators with a pattern of significant and substantial violations are subject to closure orders. However, no mine has ever been placed on POV status.

In an agency press release, MSHA administrator Joseph A. Main said the new criteria (.pdf file) focus on mines that have demonstrated a chronic failure to provide safe working conditions and failed to respond to other enforcement tools. He added, however, that this is a "stop-gap measure" and MSHA is pursuing substantive legislative and regulatory reforms.

Secretary of Labor Hilda L. Solis also addressed changes to the POV system in a speech before the National Mining Association Executive Board on Sept. 23. Noting that "bad actors" are in the minority, she said most mining operators will not see a difference in how they interact with the agency.