MSHA decision on civil penalty regulation still to come

By |  November 19, 2015

The Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) has proposed amending its civil penalty regulation to simplify the criteria, which would promote consistency, objectivity and efficiency in the proposed assessment of civil penalties and facilitate the resolution of enforcement issues, according to the agency.

MSHA says the proposal would place a greater emphasis on more serious safety and health conditions, as well as provide improved safety and health for miners. MSHA is also proposing alternatives that would address the scope and applicability of its civil penalty regulation.

MSHA hasn’t made any decisions to date about amending the regulation. But Joe Main, assistant secretary of labor for MSHA, recently offered some insight on when the industry can expect a determination on civil penalties.

“We’ve taken all the public comments, and we’re in the process of plowing through the finality of those comments and making some determination somewhere in the future,” says Main, referring to a comments period that ended in March 2015. “I would say [something will get done in the] near future versus far off. If you look at the regulatory process, it’s a long process. We’re still looking at the comments, and we do appreciate all the public comments.”

According to MSHA, the Federal Mine Safety and Health Act of 1977 established six criteria for determining civil penalties for violations of safety and health standards and regulations. The proposed rule would simplify those criteria and increase the relative weight of those that reflect the seriousness of the operator’s conduct: negligence, history of violations and the severity aspect of gravity.

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Kevin Yanik is editor-in-chief of Pit & Quarry. He can be reached at 216-706-3724 or

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