The Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) confirmed June 30 that, for the first time since reforms were implemented in 2010, there are no mines that are eligible for Pattern of Violation (POV) status.
More than 13,000 mining operations across the U.S. were screened by the agency. Comparatively, MSHA identified 51 mines that met the criteria at the time the outlines were launched in 2010, and five years later that figure dropped to one.
“MSHA’s actions have helped drive better compliance well beyond just the mines that met the criteria for further consideration for a POV notice,” said Joseph Main, assistant secretary of labor for mine safety and health. “For the 200 mines with the most significant and substantial (S&S) violations, those violations dropped 54% between 2010 and 2016. These same mines also saw a 38% reduction in total violations, and a 64% decrease in elevated enforcement actions, such as closure orders for imminent dangers or unwarrantable failures to comply with health and safety standards. We have seen a cultural change in the mining industry where high numbers of serious violations at mines are no longer tolerated.”
Main also noted that there have been significant improvements in violation and injury rates at mines previously falling into POV; S&S violations declined 66%, unwarrantable failure violations decreased 84%, total violations fell 42% and the rate of lost-time injures reported by operators dropped 55%.
The POV provision was initially part of the Federal mine Safety and Health Act of 1977, also known as the Mine Act. MSHA now calls it one of their toughest enforcement tools in the interest of mine safety, used to target chronic violators and encourage greater compliance for mines nationwide.
Since the 2010 reforms, MSHA has also published a final POV rule allowing it to consider mitigating circumstances before issuing a POV notice. That rule, put into place in 2013, also encourages U.S. mines to implement corrective action programs if approaching POV status.