In 2023, the Department of Labor carried out its second Pattern of Violations review to safeguard miners, pinpointing a repeat offender.

MSHA Releases Results of Second 2023 Pattern of Violations Screening for West Virginia Coal Mine

WASHINGTON – The U.S. Department of Labor’s Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) has completed its second 2023 pattern of violations (POV) screening, identifying chronic violators and mine operators who disregard the health and safety of miners. This is the first time MSHA has conducted multiple POV screenings in a single calendar year.

The screening process evaluates all mines in the country and identifies those with a high number of significant and substantial (S&S) violations and other safety and health compliance issues. An S&S violation is one that could significantly contribute to a safety or health hazard. Under the Mine Act, MSHA can issue a POV notice – one of its toughest enforcement actions – to mine operators who exhibit a pattern of S&S violations. If a mine receives a POV notice and continues to commit S&S violations, MSHA can withdraw miners from the affected area, except for those needed to correct the violation.

As a result of the screening, MSHA has determined that Mine No. 39 in McDowell County, West Virginia, operated by Twin State Mining Inc., meets the initial POV criteria for a pattern of violations under section 104(e) of the Mine Act. During the 12-month review period from November 1, 2022, to October 31, 2023, MSHA cited 87 S&S violations at Mine No. 39. The S&S rate per 100 inspection hours was 9.11, significantly higher than the national average rate of 2.90 for underground coal mines. However, under the POV process, MSHA also considers mitigating circumstances that may warrant postponing or not issuing a POV notice. After evaluating Mine No. 39’s operations, MSHA has determined that a postponement is warranted and has issued a postponement notice to Twin State Mining Inc. MSHA will continue to monitor the mine and has the authority to rescind the postponement and issue a POV notice if necessary to protect the safety and health of miners.

“The Biden-Harris administration has shown its commitment to using enforcement tools like the POV authority and impact inspections to target chronic violators and safeguard the safety and health of miners,” said Assistant Secretary for Mine Safety and Health Chris Williamson. “After a year that saw a concerning increase in mining fatalities, MSHA is using all available measures to prevent serious accidents and hold irresponsible operators accountable.”

MSHA’s two most recent POV issuances remain in effect. On July 6, 2023, MSHA issued a POV notice to Atalco Gramercy LLC, the operator of Gramercy Operation in Gramercy, Louisiana, after identifying a pattern of S&S violations. MSHA will continue to use all available tools to ensure the safety and health of miners and hold operators accountable for their actions.  

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