Rule allows MSHA to issue POV notice without potential POV notice

By |  January 18, 2013

MSHA has developed a new rule to strengthen its pattern of violations (POV) program and ensure mine operators monitor and address the most hazardous safety problems in their mines.MSHA Logo

The rule allows MSHA to issue a pattern of violations notice without first issuing a potential POV notice. It also eliminates the existing requirement that MSHA can consider only final orders in its POV review; establishes general criteria and procedures that MSHA will use to identify mines with a pattern of S&S violations; and reinforces mine operators’ responsibility for compliance with MSHA safety and health standards for monitoring their mines’ compliance.

“Over the last three years, the Labor Department has undergone a serious and comprehensive evaluation of mine safety practices, and that has led to reforms to protect America’s miners,” said Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis, who announced the new rule Jan. 17. “The rule we are announcing will hold mine operators accountable when they disregard life-saving safety measures.”

Joe Main, MSHA’s assistant secretary of labor, also chimed in on the new rule.

“This final rule represents one of MSHA’s highest priority regulatory initiatives and one that addresses Congress’ intent that this regulation encourage chronic violators to comply with the Mine Act and MSHA’s health and safety standards,” he said. “We think this final rule will help prevent another tragedy such as occurred at the Upper Big Branch Mine. It promotes consistency in applying the POV notice as an enforcement tool.

“There has been recognition by many that the system has been broken, with no mine being placed on POV status until 2011 – 33 years after the law went into effect. MSHA should not be prevented from taking action to protect the lives of miners for months, or even years, while we await the final outcome of citations and orders that a mine operator can easily contest. The new rule addresses those flaws.”

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About the Author:

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

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