The proposed rule is intended to simplify and better organize MSHA

MSHA Holding Public Hearings on Civil Penalty Rule

Today's public hearing in Birmingham, Ala., and another one next week in Chicago concern the proposed rule MSHA published last July.

The Mine Safety and Health Administration is holding a public hearing today, Feb. 5, in Birmingham, Ala., and a second one Feb. 12 in Chicago to discuss its proposed rule to amend its regulation for assessing civil penalties. Published July 31, 2014, the proposed rule would place more emphasis on the more serious safety and health conditions and will improve safety and health for miners, MSHA asserts.

The Birmingham meeting will begin at 9 a.m. CST at the Sheraton Birmingham Hotel, 2101 Richard Arrington Jr. Blvd. North.

MSHA previously held public hearings in Arlington, Va., and Denver. These added hearings came in response to requests from the public.

The proposed rule says the changes desired by MSHA are guided by four key principles:

  • Improvement in consistency, objectivity, and efficiency in how inspectors write citations and orders by reducing the number of decisions needed.
  • Simplification of penalty criteria, which should lead to fewer areas of dispute and earlier resolution of enforcement issues.
  • Greater emphasis on the more serious safety and health conditions.
  • Openness and transparency in the application of the agency's regular formula penalty criteria.

When issuing citations or orders, MSHA's inspectors must evaluate safety and health conditions and make decisions about five of the six statutory criteria. The proposed rule would simplify the gravity and negligence criteria. While total penalties proposed by MSHA would remain generally the same, the proposal would place an increased emphasis on Negligence, Violation History, and the Severity factor of Gravity to more appropriately address factors that directly impact miner safety and health, and the proposal would place less emphasis on mine size, with slightly less emphasis on controller and contractor sizes, according to the proposed rule's text.

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