Three Mines Receive MSHA POV Notices

This Pattern of Violoation screening is the first one conducted since MSHA's revised rule went into effect on March 25, 2013.

Three mines have been put on notice of a pattern of violations of mandatory health or safety standards under Section 104(e) of the Federal Mine Safety and Health Act of 1977, with MSHA announcing this POV screening is the first one conducted since its revised Pattern of Violations rule went into effect on March 25, 2013.

The new rule eliminated the requirement that MSHA consider only fully adjudicated orders in its POV review and directed operators to submit corrective action programs to proactively address issues that could lead to a POV. While MSHA identified 53 mines for review in 2010, issuing 17 potential POV notices and two POV notices, the October 2011 screening resulted in the review of 39 mines and issuance of eight potential POV notices and MSHA in 2012 identified 20 mines and issued four potential POV notices. This year, the agency reviewed all 14,600 of the nation's mines and identified only nine mines for additional review.

"The decrease in the number of operators meeting the POV criteria shows that the POV process is working — many operators are cleaning up their acts, even when MSHA is not looking over their shoulders," said Joe Main, the agency's assistant secretary.

The three mines that received POV notices are Tram Energy LLC's Mine No. 1 in Floyd County, Ky.; Brody Mining LLC's Brody Mine No. 1 in Boone County, W.Va.; and Pocahontas Coal Company LLC's Affinity Mine in Raleigh County, W.Va. The agency's announcement said it is still reviewing the injury records of several additional mines to determine whether they should be considered for a POV notice.

The Mine Act allows MSHA to issue a POV notice to mine operators that demonstrate a disregard for the health and safety of miners through a pattern of significant and substantial violations. (An S&S violation is one that is reasonably likely to result in a reasonably serious injury or illness.) The act also requires mines that receive POV notices to be issued withdrawal orders, effectively ceasing operations, for all S&S violations. After no mine was placed on POV for the first 33 years after the Mine Act went into effect, the agency now how issued them in three consecutive years.

"MSHA's new POV rule, which we will vigorously enforce, enhances protections for miners and shifts the responsibility for monitoring compliance and taking action to prevent POV enforcement actions to the operator," Main said.

They announcement said Tram Energy's Mine No. 1 received 120 S&S violations during the POV review period, and the company has incurred approximately $170,000 in civil penalties since it began operating in 2012, with all but $666 of that being "unpaid and delinquent." Brody Mining's Brody Mine No. 1 received 253 S&S violations during the review period. "An MSHA audit of Brody Mining's records found that injuries of miners resulted in 1,757 lost work days at the mine, 367 of which were from eight lost-time injuries that Brody Mining failed to report to MSHA. The company was also audited during the 2012 POV screening process. In that audit, MSHA found 29 injuries Brody Mining failed to report and 724 unreported lost work days," according to the agency.

Pocahontas Coal Company's Affinity Mine received 124 S&S violations during the review period, and two miners died in separate accidents during the review period. Affinity Mine received 35 closure orders during the review period, third highest in the country, according to MSHA.

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