By Steve Fiscor, Editor-in-Chief
He has not quit his day job as a mine safety compliance attorney. In his spare time, however, Mark Savitt—with the help of his son, Josh—has developed an interactive Web-based software system, Predictive Compliance, that allows mine operators to effectively track citations from the U.S. Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA).
“Our software is designed to be as user friendly as possible,” Savit said. “All you need to do is upload citations as you get them and our proprietary software calculates the predicted penalty, shows you the impact that this citation (and future citations) would have on compliance costs, allows you to plan how best to contest the citation, and provides a platform for citation management.” It also will allow miners to predict the impact of future citations on costs, resources and operations. Predictive Compliance, Savitt claims, will allow a mining company to dramatically reduce costs of compliance and allocate resources for safer, more efficient operations.
A safety manager simply uses a scanner to upload the citation and the software instantly calculates the likely penalty. It can also predict how the new citation may affect penalties for future citations—both Violations per Inspection Day (VPID) and Repeat Violations per Inspection Day (RPID)—as well as determining whether a mine could be facing additional evaluation for Pattern of Violations (POV) consideration.
“Our proprietary analytical program will enable miners to instantly determine the possible impact of contesting each of the criteria on the citation— including likelihood, severity, negligence and number of persons affected,” Savit said. It will immediately show how much money a successful contest can save the operation or what an upward modification will cost.
Mines can customize the software to write their own reports. Users can choose from 25 different categories to group the citations. All of the citation data can be transferred to a single page along with notes, pictures and any other data that might be needed in the future. The information for that citation is all stored on one database page. The data can then be manipulated.
For example, a mining company could sort citation data by cost center, by individual supervisor or by inspector. “The data could be used to quantify the impact of compliance costs on production,” Savit said. The integrated data can be easily forwarded to corporate management, consultants and counsel without the need for them to create separate databases. That saves time and money.
All of the citation data can be managed from one central location. Multiple mine operations will be able to compare mine-to-mine data as well as plan and coordinate all needed activities with counsel and consultants with little or no need for additional report preparation. A mine could use the software to identify citation writing tendencies among different inspectors. An operator can determine where they stand as far as Significant and Substantial (S&S) citations, for instance, by making mine-tomine comparisons. The mines could cross-reference the data and sort by foremen. A manager could enter the identifier for a foreman and determine whether that foreman has a compliance issue.
Predictive Compliance has different advantages for different mines. For big underground mine operators, it’s a good way to track all of the citations. A surface mine could review the information, determine repeat violations and see where the mine is receiving excessive penalties. Using that information, they could reallocate resources to avoid those particular citations. By reassigning some labor crews, Savit said one customer avoided $40,000 in citations. It’s also a great way to consolidate multiple sites, he notes.
“It’s a citation management tool and it’s a better way to communicate with lawyers and consultants,” Savit said. “Someone uploads the information and office types can look at the information without PDFs or faxes.”
Predictive Compliance signed a threeyear subscription agreement with Newmont Mining Co., which operates gold mines in Nevada, USA, after the first three months of testing its software.
With the Newmont pilot project successfully completed, an additional 25 mining companies and contractors have signed subscription agreements. The company currently supports more than 70 users.
“We have found the Predictive Compliance software to be a very valuable tool in helping miners and mine management to make important decisions in the days leading up to a MSHA inspection,” said Jon Upshaw, SLP data analyst, Newmont Mining. “The citation management portion of the software has helped identify trouble areas that exist at many of the different sites. This information helps managers know before hand which regulations they need to avoid, and due to the analytics portion of the software, how badly they need to avoid them.”
Newmont was able to bring the total number of housekeeping citations from about six per inspection down to one. The software helps identify weaknesses and management can work toward turning those weaknesses into strengths, Upshaw explained.
Another feature Upshaw has found most useful is the instant penalty calculation. “We know instantly the cost of a citation or order, where if I had to wait for the MSHA Web site to return a number it may be weeks before that information is public,” Upshaw said. “This information has come in handy when holding people accountable for their actions and has helped motivate others to correct conditions that could result in violations.”
The software helps mining companies manage business and organize citations in an efficient manner to comply with the regulations set forth by the federal government. The software puts instant weight to an MSHA inspection, Upshaw explained. “In the past, the information came to light so long after the inspection occurred that no one seemed to remember what happened,” Upshaw said.
Freeport-McMoRan Copper & Gold Co. quickly recognized the usefulness of the new software. “This tool has taken on increased importance as a result of the recent explosion in West Virginia and the regulatory and congressional activity that has come from it,” said John Caylor, vice president, occupational safety and health. “This will be a major part of the effort to be able to manage compliance information.” Predictive Compliance is a useful tool for any mine operator trying to get a better handle on compliance issues. It eliminates costly guess work and confusion. “The current MSHA enforcement environment has created new issues for every mining company,” Savit said.
“Some companies have hired separate staff just to try and keep track of their penalty exposure. This new product allows mines to allocate resources toward citation prevention.”
In light of the fact that MSHA is currently considering a change to the complicated method of calculating a potential Pattern of Violations (POV), the software will automatically upgrade the calculation.
The program will also be able to help companies with potential new reports required under the Byrd-Rockefeller amendments that call for publicly-held mining companies to report citations.
For more information, contact Josh Savit (801-994-6455) or visit: www.predictivecompliance.com.