Eight mines were recently issued letters of notice from the U.S. Department of Labor’s Mine Safety and Health Administration for a potential pattern of violations (PPOV) of the Federal Mine Safety and Health Act of 1977.
A PPOV is a precursor to the more serious ‘pattern of violations’ status. It is issued when MSHA through annual investigations finds a mining company having higher than industry average safety violations or S&S violations.
The eight mines receiving letters are:
- Marfork Coal Co. Inc.’s Parker Peerless Mine in Raleigh County, W.Va.
- Pay Car Mining Inc.’s No. 58 Mine in McDowell County, W.Va.
- Pine Ridge Coal Co. LLC’s Big Mountain No. 16 in Boone County, W.Va. (previously received PPOV notice in October 2009)
- Rio Group Inc.’s Coalburg No. 2 Mine in Logan County, W.Va.
- Nine Mile Mining Inc.’s No. 3 Mine in Wise County, Va.
- Manalapan Mining Co. Inc.’s RB No. 12 in Harlan County, Ky.
- Big Ridge Inc.’s Willow Lake Portal in Saline County, Ill. (previously received PPOV notice in November 2010)
- Queenstake Resources U.S.A. Inc.’s Jerritt Canyon Mill in Elko, Nev.
MSHA screens for PPOV mines at least once a year. Mines receiving PPOV notices have the opportunity to implement corrective action programs, and they must reduce their S&S rates to targets set by the agency. Mine operators not meeting these targets are subject to a notice for a pattern of violations and closure orders for all S&S violations under Section 104(e).
MSHA encourages mine operators to implement corrective action programs with long-term goals for reducing violations beyond the goals established by MSHA under the POV procedures.
In addition to the eight mines receiving PPOV notices, other mines are still under PPOV consideration. These include mines for which MSHA is verifying self-reported injury information to ensure that it is accurate and thereby confirm that the operators do not meet the PPOV screening criteria. Following the initial screening conducted in October 2010, MSHA issued PPOV notices at four additional mines after audits revealed those mines had not accurately reported injury data.
“In April, MSHA briefed stakeholders on a new and transparent online tool that allows mine operators to regularly monitor their compliance and injury records under the PPOV initial screening criteria and make adjustments to improve health and safety accordingly,” said Joseph A. Main, assistant secretary of labor for mine safety and health. “Unfortunately, some operators either did not use this tool or did not respond with effective improvements.”