Mining is one of the most dangerous professions in the world. One quick mistake, or technical failure, and there is a potential disaster just around the corner.

That is why it is good to see a report saying of the U.S.’ 13,000 mining operations, none met the screening criteria for a Pattern of Violations (PoV), one of the toughest enforcement tools used by the Department of Labor’s Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA).

This follows MSHA’s most recent screening, covering the period from Feb. 1, 2019 to Jan. 31, 2020. This was the sixth consecutive screening that resulted in no PoV notices. The last screening covered the period from Sept. 1, 2018, to Aug. 31, 2019. Under MSHA regulations, MSHA conducts PoV screenings “at least once each year.”

MSHA reserves use of the PoV provision – established in the Federal Mine Safety and Health Act of 1977 – for mines that pose the greatest risk to miners’ health and safety, particularly those with chronic violation records.

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“Safety and health is what we care about most at the Mine Safety and Health Administration. It’s what miners care about, it’s what miners’ families care about and we can see it’s what mine operators care about,” said MSHA Assistant Secretary David G. Zatezalo. “We’ll issue Pattern of Violations notices when we need to, but it’s a good feeling to look at the screenings and see no mines meeting the criteria.”

In January 2013, MSHA published its oOV rule to strengthen safety measures in the nation’s most dangerous mines.

Under the regulation, MSHA may consider mitigating circumstances before issuing a PoV notice and encourages mine operators to implement a corrective action program if they are close to meeting the PoV screening criteria.

MSHA provides two online tools to help mine operators monitor compliance: The PoV tool, which informs mine operators how they rate against the screening criteria and should take appropriate corrective actions; and the S&S rate calculator, which enables mine operators to monitor their “significant and substantial” violations. Between 2011 and 2019, the rate of significant and substantial violations dropped from approximately 32 percent to 20 percent, an indicator of safety improvements in mines.

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