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MSHA: No mines subject to pattern-of-violations notice for third straight year

The U.S. Mine Safety and Health Administration announced that for the third straight year, none of the country's 13,000 mining operations triggered a pattern-of-violations notice.

The POV rule is considered one of the agency's toughest enforcement tools, requiring mines with chronic violation records to cease operations until the violation is abated.

"A number of mine operators have proactively implemented corrective action programs to address specific hazards at their mines to improve miner safety and health, and those efforts are paying off," Patricia Silvey, deputy assistant secretary of labor at MSHA, said in an Aug. 2 release. The screening period started July 1, 2016, and ended June 30.

In 2014, coal industry organizations filed a suit against the agency for revising the POV process, allowing it to designate a mine as on POV status without issuing a prior warning or awaiting completion of the violations appeals process. Once labeled a POV mine, an operation is subject to stricter enforcement.

The coal entities challenging the rule claim the streamlined process, which makes it easier for MSHA to label a mine as a pattern violator, is an affront to a company's due process rights because operations could be stalled or slowed without an opportunity to contest citations that are often overturned.

The litigation is stayed for 120 days, pending settlement discussions.