MSHA issued notices under new rule to 2 WV mines - Beckley, Bluefield & Lewisburg News, Weather, Sports

MSHA issues notices under new rule to 2 WV mines

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Two West Virginia mines and one in Kentucky were put on notice of a pattern of violations of mandatory health or safety standards under a new rule from the U.S. Department of Labor's Mine Safety and Health Administration.

The Pattern of Violation screening was the first one conducted since MSHA's revised POV rule went into effect March 25. According to MSHA, the revisions "improve MSHA's ability to act when it finds a pattern of violations."

Brody Mining LLC's Brody Mine No. 1 in Boone County and Pocahontas Coal Company LLC's Affinity Mine in Raleigh County were the two Mountain State mines that received the notice. Tram Energy LLC's Mine No. 1 in Floyd County, Ky. was the third.

"MSHA's new POV rule, which we will vigorously enforce, enhances protections for miners and shifts the responsibility for monitoring compliance and taking action to prevent POV enforcement actions to the operator," Joseph A. Main, assistant secretary of labor for mine safety and health, said in a news release.

The POV review covered all 14,600 mines across the country, and MSHA will continue to review the injury records of several mines to determine if they should be given a POV notice.

The Brody Mine received 253 significant and substantial, or S&S violations during the review period, and an MSHA audit found that miner injuries resulted in 1,757 lost work days at the mine, and 367 of those were from eight lost-time injuries Brody Mining failed to report to MSHA.

The Affinity Mine received 124 S&S violations during the review period, and one-fourth of those violations were cited by MSHA as "involving high negligence or reckless disregard for the health and safety of miners," according to MSHA.

"Two miners died in separate accidents during the review period," reads a news release from MSHA. "The fatalities occurred within two weeks of each other and both involved scoops.

"Affinity Mine received 35 closure orders during the review period, the third highest in the country."

The new rule eliminated the previous requirement that MSHA consider only fully adjudicated orders in its POV review. It also shifts responsibility for monitoring compliance to the mine operators, and it mandates operators submit corrective action programs to proactively address issues that could lead to a future POV.

The Mine Act authorizes MSHA to issue a POV notice to mine operators that demonstrate a disregard for the health and safety of miners through a pattern of significant and substantial violations. A POV notice is one of the agency's toughest enforcement actions, and according to MSHA, is reserved for mines that pose the greatest risk to miner safety.

No mine was issued a POV for the first 33 years the Mine Act was in effect, but this is now the third year in a row MSHA has issued the notices.