MSHA Puts Eight Mine Operators on Notice to Correct Hazards

MSHA on June 14 said it has notified eight mine operators that they have "a potential pattern of violations of mandatory health or safety standards." This is first use of notification letters under MSHA's enhanced enforcement initiative. The eight operators would be the first in the history of the agency to be sanctioned on that basis, if MSHA takes enforcement action.

"The purpose of these letters is to put mine operators on notice about the repercussions they face if they repeatedly disregard mine safety and health regulations," said Richard Stickler, MSHA's chief. "The ultimate goal is to restore effective safe and healthy conditions at these mines, and MSHA will not hesitate to use all the tools available to ensure compliance with the law." An operator that has a potential pattern of recurrent significant and substantial violations at a mine receives written notification; MSHA defines such violations as ones that could reasonably be expected to lead to a serious injury or illness.

The operators can review and comment on the documents and develop a written corrective action plan to reduce violations at the mine. MSHA said it will closely monitor the mines' compliance record during the next 90 days. "If the operator significantly reduces its violation frequency rate, it can avoid being issued a Notice of a Pattern of Violations. If the improvement falls short of the criteria, MSHA will issue the notice. For each S&S violation found, MSHA will issue an order withdrawing miners from the affected area until the cited condition has been corrected," according to the agency's announcement.

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