MSHA Opens Fourth Pattern of Violations Case

The DOL agency said it has found that 19 out of 39 audited mines "either failed to report injuries or underreported the lost time associated with reported injuries, and four of the 19 met the criteria for a [potential pattern of violations]."

MSHA announced it has placed Dennis Creg Yonts' Mine No. 2 in Letcher County, Ky., on potential pattern of violations status based on data gathered during MSHA audits. The mine is operated by Vision Coal. The DOL agency said it has found that 19 out of 39 audited mines "either failed to report injuries or underreported the lost time associated with reported injuries, and four of the 19 met the criteria for a PPOV."

The three operations now on PPOV status are Alpha Natural Resources Inc.'s Randolph Mine operated by Inman Energy and Justice No. 1 Mine operated by Independent Coal Co. Inc, both in Boone County, W.Va., and the Maple Eagle No. 1 Mine operated by Maple Coal Co., a Walter Energy Inc. mine in Fayette County, W.Va.

"These results expose an unsettling amount of underreporting at mines that already have troublesome compliance records," said Joe Main, assistant secretary of labor for mine safety and health. "These audits are an important tool as MSHA scrutinizes its system of operators self-reporting accidents and injuries. We cannot simply accept information provided by a mine operator that may be avoiding PPOV enforcement action."

The 39 audits identified 76 injuries that were unreported or underreported, including 47 unreported injuries at six mines formerly controlled by Massey Energy. As a result, MSHA issued 247 citations, including 98 for failing to accurately report injuries. Its news release said two Peabody Energy mines -- Willow Lake Portal operated by Big Ridge Inc. in Saline County, Ill., and Air Quality No. 1 Mine operated by Peabody Midwest Mining LLC in Knox County, Ind. -- "have yet to comply with MSHA's audit." An administrative law judge with the Federal Mine Safety and Health Review Commission has ruled the mines must give documents to MSHA to allow the audits to be done, but the company has appealed the judge's decision to the commission.

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