Skip to content
DOL/MSHA RIN: 1219-AB72 Publication ID: Fall 2011
Title: Criteria and Procedures for Proposed Assessment of Civil Penalties
Abstract: MSHA will develop a proposed rule to revise the process for proposing civil penalties. The assessment of civil penalties is a key component in MSHA's strategy to enforce safety and health standards. 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. MSHA believes that the procedures for assessing civil penalties can be revised to improve the efficiency of the Agency's efforts and to facilitate the resolution of enforcement issues.
Agency: Department of Labor(DOL) Priority: Other Significant
RIN Status: Previously published in the Unified Agenda Agenda Stage of Rulemaking: Proposed Rule Stage
Major: No Unfunded Mandates: Undetermined
CFR Citation: 30 CFR 100
Legal Authority: 30 USC 815; 30 USC 820; 30 USC 957
Legal Deadline: None

Statement of Need: Section 110(a) of the Federal Mine Safety and Health Act of 1977 (Mine Act) requires MSHA to assess a civil penalty for a violation of a mandatory health or safety standard or violation of any provision of the Mine Act. The mine operator has 30 days from receipt of the proposed assessment to contest it before the Federal Mine Safety and Health Review Commission (Commission), an independent adjudicatory agency established under the Mine Act. A proposed assessment that is not contested within 30 days becomes a final order of the Commission. A proposed assessment that is contested within 30 days proceeds to the Commission for adjudication. The proposed rule would promote consistency, objectivity, and efficiency in the proposed assessment of civil penalties. When issuing citations or orders, inspectors are required to evaluate safety and health conditions and make decisions about the statutory criteria related to assessing penalties. The proposed changes in the measures of the evaluation criteria would result in fewer areas of disagreement and earlier resolution of enforcement issues. The proposal would require conforming changes to the Mine Citation/Order form (MSHA Form 7000-3).

Summary of the Legal Basis: Section 104 of the Mine Act requires MSHA to issue citations or orders to mine operators for any violations of a mandatory health or safety standard, rule, order, or regulation promulgated under the Mine Act. Sections 105 and 110 of the Mine Act provide for assessment of these penalties.

Alternatives: The proposal would include several alternatives in the preamble and requests comments on them.

Anticipated Costs and Benefits: MSHA will prepare estimates of the anticipated costs and benefits in a preliminary regulatory economic analysis to accompany the proposed rule.

Risks: MSHA's existing procedures for assessing civil penalties can be revised to improve the efficiency of the Agency's efforts and to facilitate the resolution of enforcement issues. In the overwhelming majority of contested cases before the Commission, the issue is not whether a violation occurred. Rather, the parties disagree on the gravity of the violation, the degree of mine operator negligence, and other criterion. The proposed changes should result in fewer areas of disagreement and earlier resolution of enforcement issues, which should result in fewer contests of violations or proposed assessments.

Timetable:
Action Date FR Cite
NPRM 02/00/2012
Regulatory Flexibility Analysis Required: Undetermined Government Levels Affected: None
Small Entities Affected: Businesses Federalism: No
Included in the Regulatory Plan: Yes
RIN Information URL: www.msha.gov/regsinfo.htm Public Comment URL: www.regulations.gov
RIN Data Printed in the FR: No
Agency Contact:
Roslyn B. Fontaine
Acting 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: fontaine.roslyn@dol.gov