MSHA Puts 15 Operators on Notice for Potential Pattern of Violations

MSHA recently announced that 15 mine operators from around the country have received letters putting them on notice that each has a potential pattern of violations of mandatory health or safety standards under Section 104(e) of the Federal Mine Safety and Health Act of 1977 (Mine Act).

"The 13 coal mines and two metal/nonmetal mines represent the fourth round of mine operators to receive these letters under MSHA's enhanced enforcement initiative," said Michael A. Davis, MSHA's deputy assistant secretary for operations. "Hopefully, these operators will use this opportunity to incorporate needed improvements into their safety and health programs."

A mine operator that has a potential pattern of recurrent significant and substantial (S&S) violations at a mine receives written notification from MSHA. An S&S violation is one that could reasonably be expected to lead to a serious injury or illness. The operator has an opportunity to review and comment on the documents upon which the potential pattern of violations is based and to develop a corrective action plan to reduce S&S violations in order to reverse the potential pattern.

MSHA said it will closely monitor each affected mine's compliance record during the ensuing 90 days. If an operator significantly reduces its violation frequency rate, it can avoid being issued a Notice of a Pattern of Violations pursuant to Section 104(e) of the Mine Act. If the improvement falls short of the criteria, MSHA will issue the notice. For each S&S violation subsequently found, MSHA will issue an order withdrawing miners from the affected area until the cited condition has been corrected.

An operator can be removed from a pattern of violations when 1) an inspection of the entire mine is completed and no S&S violations are found or 2) no withdrawal order is issued by MSHA in accordance with Section 104(e)(1) of the Mine Act within 90 days of the issuance of the pattern notice.

MSHA used data from the 24 months ending Dec. 31, 2008, to identify the mines with a potential pattern of violations.

The mine owners that received notifications were: Big River Mining LLC; Stollings Trucking Co. Inc.; Independence Coal Co. Inc.; Elk Run Coal Co. Inc.; Keokee Mining LLC; Snapco Inc.; Banner Blue Coal Co.; Double A Mining Inc.; North Star Mining Inc.; Rockhouse Energy Mining Co.; Century Operations LLC; Blue Diamond Coal Co.; Hidden Splendor Resources Inc.; Celite Corp.; and Newmont USA Limited.

For more information, go to MSHA'sPOV single source page.

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