The following are among the final rule’s major provisions:
- Allows MSHA to issue a POV notice without first issuing a potential POV notice;
- Eliminates the existing requirement that MSHA can consider only final orders in its POV review;
- Establishes general criteria and procedures that MSHA will use to identify mines with a pattern of S&S violations;
- Reinforces mine operators’ responsibility for compliance with MSHA safety and health standards and for monitoring their mines’ compliance;
- Clarifies that MSHA will consider a mine operator’s effective implementation of an MSHA-approved corrective action program as a mitigating circumstance in its POV review, if the program contains definitive benchmarks implemented prior to POV notice, and the operator has reduced S&S violations; and
- Restates the statutory requirement that, for mines in POV status, each S&S violation will result in a withdrawal order until a complete inspection finds no S&S violations.
In April 2011, MSHA launched an online monitoring tool that enables mine operators, miners and the public to determine, based on the most recent data available, how a specific mine matches up with the criteria for a potential POV. Under the final rule, the online tool will continue to be available to measure compliance performance against POV criteria.
The POV rule is the third regulation MSHA has issued aimed at preventing coal mine dust explosions. MSHA issued a final rule to improve rock dust standards on June 21, 2011, and a final rule on underground coal mine examinations April 6, 2012.
The new POV rule can be viewed in its entirety at http://www.msha.gov.