On April 13, following the explosion at the Upper Big Branch Mine that killed 29 men, Rep. George Miller, chairman of the committee on education and labor, asked the Department of Labor’s Office of Inspector General to review the Mine Safety and Health Administration’s Pattern of Violation Program
On April 13, following the explosion at Upper Big Branch Mine that killed 29 men, Rep. George Miller, chairman of the committee on education and labor, asked the Department of Laborís Office of Inspector General to review the Mine Safety and Health Administrationís Pattern of Violation Program. An interim report was released this month.
Both Secretary of Labor Hilda L. Solis and Assistant Secretary of Labor for Mine Safety and Health Joseph A. Main welcomed the independent analysis provided by the inspector general; reiterated that the POV system, created by the previous administration, is fundamentally flawed and needs to be fixed; and pledged to revise administrative procedures that govern POVs for the 2010 determinations, as well as to continue to work on legislative and regulatory long-term reforms.
The Department of Labor said in April that it would work on new regulations that govern the POV system. DOL will now change its administrative policies regarding POV to the extent permitted under the law. These new policies will govern the 2010 POV determinations expected in October. Additionally, in a letter to Rep. Miller, MSHA chief Main outlined the agency's short- and long-term plans to fix the broken POV system.
"The Office of Inspector General reaffirms what we already knew: The Pattern of Violation process is badly broken," Solis says. "It's clear that we need to scrap the current system and put a new system in place that is focused on protecting minersí safety and health. Iím working with my former colleagues in Congress to develop a legislative response, and at the same time Iíve asked MSHA to begin work on both regulatory and administrative fixes. The bottom line is that the system we use this year will be different than the system we used in the past, and we'll continue to work to get this system right in order to protect the safety and health of Americaís miners."
"The more one looks at the Pattern of Violation system we inherited, the more problems one finds," Main says. "Thatís why, in April, we announced that weíd be rewriting the Pattern of Violation rules this year. Weíre also conducting a review of the internal policies that govern Pattern of Violations so we can begin to change the way we deal with persistently problematic mines this year. We welcome the inspector generalís continued partnership in identifying problems we need to fix, and we remain committed to doing whatever it takes to fix this badly broken system."