The U.S. Department of Labor’s Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) announced that – for the third consecutive year – none of the nation’s more than 13,000 mining operations meets the criteria for a Pattern of Violations (POV) notice. The screening period started on July 1, 2016, and ended on June 30, 2017.
The POV provision in the Federal Mine Safety and Health Act of 1977 is one of MSHA’s toughest enforcement tools. The agency reserves the provision for mines that pose the greatest risk to the health and safety of miners, particularly those with chronic violation records.
The Mine Act authorizes MSHA to issue a POV notice to mine operators that demonstrate a disregard for the health and safety of miners through a pattern of significant and substantial violations. It requires mines that receive POV notices to be issued withdrawal orders – temporarily ceasing operations until the violation is abated – for all significant and substantial, or “S&S” violations.
“A number of mine operators have proactively implemented corrective action programs to address specific hazards at their mines to improve miner safety and health, and those efforts are paying off,” said Deputy Assistant Secretary of Labor for Mine Safety and Health, Patricia W. Silvey. “Throughout the year, MSHA works with mine operators and miners to identify and correct recurring hazards.”
In January 2013, MSHA published its final POV rule to strengthen safety measures in the nation’s most dangerous mines. The regulation enables MSHA to consider mitigating circumstances before issuing a POV notice and encourages mine operators to implement a corrective action program if they are approaching a POV.
In recent years, MSHA developed two online tools to help mine operators monitor compliance – the POV monitoring tool, which alerts mine operators that they meet the screening criteria and should take appropriate corrective actions; and the S&S rate calculator that enables mine operators to monitor their S&S violations.