Are you in compliance with the MSHA’s final rule regarding POV’s that took effect on March 25th? The MSHA press release from January 2013 stated the revised POV (pattern of violations) will cover the hazardous safety issues in mine sites and will also strengthen MSHA’s authority in tackling hazardous mining conditions. According to the final rule, MSHA will be able to act immediately against the mine operators who neglect surface miners health and safety.
Some of the final rule’s major provisions include:
- Eliminating the initial screening and the potential POV notice and review process
- Eliminating the existing requirement MSHA can consider final in its POV review
- Establishing general criteria that MSHA will use to identify mines with a pattern of significant and substantial violations
- Reinforcing mine operator’s responsibility to comply with MSHA safety and health standards and to monitor their mines’ compliance
- Clarifying that an MSHA-approved corrective action program is considered a mitigating circumstance in POV review (If the program contains definitive benchmarks implemented prior to POV notice, the operator has reduced significant and substantial violations.)
- Restating the statutory requirement that, for mines of POV status, each significant and substantial violation will result in a withdrawal order until a complete inspection finds no significant and substantial violation
The new POV rule is made stronger to prevent accidents similar to the Big Branch Mine disaster which happened in 2010 and took the lives of 29 coal miners. According to records, the Upper Big Branch Mine was cited for two violations before the disaster took place. This incident could have been prevented if key MSHA safety rules were implemented and followed.
Mining is considered as one of the most dangerous professions. Mine operators should have rigorous training in place to ensure the health and safety of miners. For operators, it’s their responsibility to provide surface miner training and underground miner training to employees.