MSHA Chief Says Pattern of Violations Reforms Have Made Mines Safer

Assistant Secretary Joseph A. Main addressed the changes as they neared their second anniversary.

The violations reforms undertaken by MSHA have been "a game changer in mine safety and health culture," said Assistant Secretary of Labor Joseph A. Main, according to a news release from MSHA.

MSHA is authorized 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. A POV notice is reserved for mines that pose the greatest risk to the safety and health of minors. Prior to 2010, no mine had ever been placed on a POV in the history of the Mine Act. Main directed the implementation of major reforms to POV provisions that year, mostly stemming from the Upper Big Branch coal mine explosion in West Virginia, which killed 29 minters.

"Data show that these reforms, in combination with other agency efforts, such as the impact inspection program, have led to significant reductions in the universe of chronic violators, prompted operators with trouble compliance records to improve their safety and health programs, and resulted in much safer mines in our nation," he said.

Under the reforms, a better screening process has allowed the agency to better target chronic violators and identify mines that are potentials POVs.

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