The Department of Labor's Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) announced it has published a proposed rule that would amend its existing civil penalty regulations by simplifying the criteria for assessing health and safety violations and increasing emphasis on more serious safety and health conditions, thus providing improved safety and health for miners.
"This proposed rule would simplify the process and increase consistency, objectivity and efficiency in the citations and orders that inspectors issue. Furthermore, it would facilitate improved compliance and early resolution of enforcement issues," said Joseph A. Main, assistant secretary of Labor for mine safety and health.
MSHA's proposal is structured to encourage operators to be more accountable and proactive in addressing safety and health conditions at their mines. Under the proposal, total penalties proposed by MSHA and the distribution of the penalty amount by mine size would remain generally the same; however, the penalty amount for small metal and nonmetal mines would decrease. The existing minimum penalty of $112 and the maximum penalty of $70,000 for non-flagrant violations would not change, but minimum penalties for unwarrantable failure violations — that is, violations that constitute more than just ordinary negligence — would increase to provide a greater deterrent for mine operators who allow these violations to occur.