MSHA's pattern-of-violations program not working: report

October 7, 2010

The Mine Safety and Health Administration has never successfully used its pattern of violations authority because of a lack of focus and leadership over three decades, according to a report (.pdf file) released Sept. 29 by the Department of Labor Office of Inspector General.

The report noted MSHA took 13 years to finalize POV regulations, and created problems by mandating that all enforcement actions -- including appeals -- must be exhausted before the agency can exercise its POV authority.

OIG investigators found the POV process was decentralized among MSHA districts. MSHA attempted to standardize the process in 2007, but the criteria were too complex and lacked a supportable rationale, the report said. Investigators recommended MSHA re-evaluate the current POV regulations and seek stakeholder input in developing new, transparent POV criteria.

The report coincides with MSHA's announcement of new screening criteria (.pdf file) and tougher provisions for repeat violators.