“This screening represents a positive step forward, but it won’t be the only step,” said Joe Main, assistant secretary of labor for mine safety and health. “POV is on MSHA’s rulemaking agenda, and there are also statutory changes pending before Congress that would further improve the system.”

Main also noted the review process is not finished. “Once MSHA completes a thorough auditing, there may be more mines put on notice for a potential POV,” Main said.

MSHA’s screening process identified mines with an elevated rate of significant and substantial (S&S) violations. It also identified those that have been subject to closure orders, including closure orders for serious issues such as failing to correct violations after MSHA cites them, unwarrantable failures to comply with health or safety standards, failure to provide miners with required training and imminent dangers in the mine. Under the new criteria (See Legally Speaking, p.56), MSHA also considered whether a mine has a high percentage of S&S violations involving elevated negligence, as well as a mine’s injury severity rate, targeting operations with an above-average injury severity measure.