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[April 30, 2007 (Volume 72, Number 82)]
[Unified Agenda]

Department of Labor (DOL)
Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA)
Completed Actions


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1823. CRITERIA AND PROCEDURES FOR PROPOSED ASSESSMENT OF CIVIL PENALTIES

Priority: Other Significant

Legal Authority: 30 USC 815; 30 USC 820; 30 USC 957

CFR Citation: 30 CFR 100

Legal Deadline: Final, Statutory, December 30, 2006. The MINER Act established a deadline of December 30, 2006, for MSHA to complete the Civil Penalties rulemaking. MSHA did not meet that deadline, but the agency has been applying the higher MINER Act penalties since the date of enactment.

Abstract: MSHA is proposing to amend its civil penalty regulations to increase penalty amounts, to revise the process for proposing civil penalties and to implement requirements of the Mine Improvement and New Emergency Response Act (MINER Act) of 2006. The key civil penalty provisions of the MINER Act are: minimum penalties of $2,000 for unwarrantable failure violations and $4,000 for repeated similar violations; penalties of $5,000 to $60,000 for failure to timely notify MSHA of a death, injury, or entrapment with a reasonable potential to cause death; and penalties of up to $220,000 for ``flagrant'' violations.

Statement of Need: A recent upward trend in citations for violations of MSHA's safety and health regulations, coupled with several tragic accidents in 2006, have called into question the effectiveness of the current civil penalty regulations. Congress responded by passing the MINER Act to provide MSHA with statutory authority to change the civil penalty regulations. As a result the final rule strengthens the existing regulations, improves miner safety and health, and reduces fatalities.

Summary of Legal Basis: This regulation is authorized by the Federal Mine Safety and Health Act of 1977 and the MINER Act of 2006.

Alternatives: The Agency considered a variety of approaches for calculating civil penalties and is publishing the approach that it believes best achieves the objectives of the Agency.

Anticipated Cost and Benefits: Using 2005 violation and assessment data as a baseline, MSHA estimated that all violations in 2005, if assessed under the final rule, would result in approximately $69.3 million in penalties annually, which is an increase of $44.5 million. However, MSHA projected that the higher penalties will induce operators to increase compliance efforts, which would cost an estimated $9.5 million and decrease the number of violations by approximately 20 percent. The resulting increase in penalties is estimated to be approximately $22.1 million. In addition, a new provision requiring a written request for safety and health conferences will have an annual cost of approximately $0.1 million. Taking all of these effects into account, the total cost of the rule would be $31.6 million yearly. MSHA believes the projected increased compliance with health and safety regulations would result in fewer injuries and fatalities, but these benefits have not been scientifically established. Accordingly, MSHA did not prepare a quantitative estimate of the expected reduction in injuries and fatalities.

Risks: The Mine Act imposes civil penalties as a means of ensuring compliance with the requirements of the Act. The Congress intended that the imposition of civil penalties would induce mine operators to be proactive in their approach to mine safety and health, and take necessary action to prevent safety and health hazards before they occur. According to MSHA's 2005 production data, this regulation applies to 14,666 mine operators and 6,585 independent contractors, as well as the 261,449 miners and 83,267 contract workers they employ.

Timetable:
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Action                            Date                      FR Cite

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NPRM                            09/08/06                    71 FR 53054
NPRM Comment Period End         10/23/06
NPRM Comment Period Reopened    10/26/06                    71 FR 62572
NPRM Comment Period End         11/09/06
Final Action                    03/22/07                    72 FR 13592
Final Action Effective          04/23/07


Regulatory Flexibility Analysis Required: No

Small Entities Affected: Businesses

Government Levels Affected: None

URL For More Information:
www.msha.gov/regsinfo.htm www.regulations.gov

URL For Public Comments:
www.regulations.gov

Agency Contact: Patricia W. Silvey, Director, Office of Standards,
Regulations, and Variances, Department of Labor, Mine Safety and Health
Administration, 1100 Wilson Boulevard, Room 2350, Arlington, VA 22209-3939
Phone: 202 693-9440
Fax: 202 693-9441
Email: silvey.patricia@dol.gov

RIN: 1219-AB51

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