MSHA program reclaims $5.2M in unpaid fines

By |  October 25, 2018
MSHA's David Zatezalo

Zatezalo

The Mine Safety & Health Administration (MSHA) took action earlier this year to strengthen its enforcement efforts regarding delinquent fines and mine violations. MSHA now reports 49 operators took steps this year to enter into payment agreements or satisfy their debts, resulting in $5.2 million in recovered fines.

MSHA Assistant Secretary David Zatezalo made strengthening the Scofflaw Program a priority back in March 2018. The Scofflaw Program is an initiative aimed at collecting unpaid fines from delinquent mine operators.

Following MSHA’s March announcement, the agency delivered 30-day demand letters to an initial list of delinquent mine operators, providing them with an opportunity to set up a payment plan and making clear the consequence of non-payment.

“A robust Scofflaw Program is critical to protecting the health and safety of our nation’s miners,” Zatezalo says. “Failure to pay penalties is unfair to both miners who deserve safe workplaces as well as operators who play by the rules. While 90 percent of all penalties assessed for health and safety violations are paid in a timely manner, MSHA will continue to use all available enforcement mechanisms to collect unpaid fines.”

If mine operators fail to show good faith and make penalty payment arrangements, MSHA can pursue the collection of the fines owed through all legal means at its disposal. If necessary, MSHA can pursue a Mine Act 104(b) withdrawal order, which forces mine operators to cease production until fines are resolved.

To date, MSHA has issued 12 104(b) orders. All but two mines have reopened and resumed operations after making payment arrangements.

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