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MSHA News Release: [06/14/2007]
Contact: Dirk Fillpot          Amy Louviere
Phone:    (202) 693-9406   (202) 693-9423
Release Number 07-872-NAT

U.S. Labor Department's MSHA puts eight mine operators on notice Operators receive letters indicating a potential pattern of violations
Operators receive letters indicating a potential pattern of violations

ARLINGTON, Va. - The U.S. Department of Labor's Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) today announced that eight mine operators from around the country have received letters putting them on notice that each has a potential pattern of violations of mandatory health or safety standards under section 104(e) of the Federal Mine Safety and Health Act of 1977. These eight operations represent the first mines to receive such letters under MSHA's enhanced enforcement initiative and, if ultimately issued a pattern of violations notice, would be the first in the history of the agency to be sanctioned as having a pattern of violations.

"The purpose of these letters is to put mine operators on notice about the repercussions they face if they repeatedly disregard mine safety and health regulations," said Richard E. Stickler, assistant secretary of labor for mine safety and health. "The ultimate goal is to restore effective safe and healthy conditions at these mines, and MSHA will not hesitate to use all the tools available to ensure compliance with the law.

A mine operator that has a potential pattern of recurrent significant and substantial (S&S) violations at a mine will receive written notification from MSHA. An S&S violation is one which could reasonably be expected to lead to a serious injury or illness. The operator will have an opportunity to review and comment on the documents upon which the potential pattern of violations is based, and develop a written corrective action plan to reduce S&S violations at the mine and to avoid violations caused by imminent dangers, failure to abate previously cited violations, and unwarrantable failures to comply with standards.

MSHA will closely monitor the affected mine's compliance record during the ensuing 90 days. If the operator significantly reduces its violation frequency rate, it can avoid being issued a Notice of a Pattern of Violations. If the improvement falls short of the criteria, MSHA will issue the notice. For each S&S violation found, MSHA will issue an order withdrawing miners from the affected area until the cited condition has been corrected. An operator can be removed from a pattern of violations when 1) an inspection of the entire mine is completed and no S&S violations are found or 2) no withdrawal order is issued by MSHA in accordance with Section 104 (e)(1) of the Mine Act within 90 days of the issuance of the pattern notice.

MSHA used data from the most recent eight quarters to determine an active mine operation's eligibility for notification of a potential pattern of violations.

For additional information on Pattern of Violations, click here.

  • Pattern of Violations Screening Criteria and Scoring Model

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