MSHA Publishes Proposed Rule on Civil Penalty Assessments

The proposal aims to simplify the process and improve consistency, with an emphasis on more serious conditions.

The Mine Safety and Health Administration announced it will publish a proposed rule that amends its existing civil penalty regulations by simplifying the criteria for assessing health and safety violations. There will be increased emphasis on more serious safety and health conditions in an attempt to improve safety and health for miners, according to the agency.

The proposed rule would simplify the process and increase consistency, objectivity, and efficiency in the citations and orders that inspectors issue. It would also facilitate improved compliance and early resolution of enforcement issues.

MSHA's proposal is structured to encourage operators to be more accountable and proactive in addressing safety and health conditions at their mines. Under the proposal, total penalties and the distribution of the penalty amount by mine size would remain generally the same; however, the penalty amount for small metal and nonmetal mines would decrease.

"MSHA has implemented a number of initiatives to encourage mine operators to find and fix conditions and practices that could lead to violations, and we believe those efforts have led to improved safety and health conditions in mines," said Assistant Secretary Joe Main. "The number of violations cited by MSHA has decreased, as has the backlog of contested cases. The proposed rule will improve the civil penalty process, and we welcome comments from the entire mining community."

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