Stickler: Most Mine Violators Significantly Better

The Mine Safety and Health Administration said six of the eight mine operations that received written warnings last June for exhibiting a potential pattern of violations have met or exceeded the necessary criteria for reducing violation rates. In addition, MSHA  has sent written warnings to 20 additional mine operators. "The operators that received the first letter in June knew they needed to make serious changes to improve their safety records, and change they did," said Richard Stickler, assistant secretary of labor for mine safety and health. "They have successfully and dramatically reduced their significant and substantial (S&S) violation rates -- on average, by 50 percent.

"But their work is not yet done," he added. "We strongly encourage these mine operators to continue to improve their compliance records until their mines are violation free, and we will continue to conduct our inspections in a rigorous fashion. Hopefully, they will serve as an example to the other 20 operators to improve their compliance rates."

MSHA said data were not available for two of the eight mines because Eagle #1 (Peachtree Ridge Mining Co.), has been inactive since July and Oak Grove Mine (Oak Grove Resources) underwent a change in ownership and management and continues to be monitored by the agency. MSHA recorded the following reduction rates: #77 Mine/Blue Diamond Coal Co., 71 percent; Black King/Elk Run Coal Co., 32 percent; Chess Processing/Elk Run Coal Co., 47 percent; Oro Grande Quarry/Riverside Cement Co.; 54 percent; Straight Creek #1/Left Fork Mining Co. Inc., 60 percent; and Tilden Mine/Tilden Mining Co., 45 percent.

In order to be removed from consideration for this round of pattern of violations notices, operations needed to reduce their S&S violation frequency rate for the 90-day review period by 30 percent or to levels below the national average. An S&S violation is one that could reasonably be expected to lead to a serious injury or illness.

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