Last November, the agency put 13 mines on notice that each had a potential POV. A 14th mine received similar notification in December, after an agency audit revealed the mine operator had failed to report a dozen injuries. All 14 mines that received potential POV notices implemented corrective action programs to reduce their significant and substantial (S&S) issuance rates.

Subsequent to the potential POV notifications, two of the 14 mines were temporarily idled. One ceased production. One has not completed the evaluation process. Between January 3 and March 21, 2011, MSHA conducted inspections of the 10 remaining mines. Of those, eight met the prescribed S&S goals, and the two operations now receiving the POV notices failed to meet their goals by a significant margin.

“We take this law and our obligation to enforce it very seriously,” said Joe Main, assistant secretary of labor for mine safety and health. “While we believe most mine operators in this country do as well, it is clear that some do not. If we are to prevent death, injury and illness in the nation’s mines, these enforcement actions are necessary to rein in chronic and persistent violators of safety and health laws.”

Under Section 104(e) of the Mine Act, MSHA issues a withdrawal order at a POV mine each time it issues an S&S violation. The order remains in place until the violation is abated. An operator can be removed from POV status after undergoing a complete inspection without receiving an S&S violation.