The Pattern of Violations (POV) is used by MSHA to identify mine operators who have demonstrated a recurring pattern of Significant and Substantial (S&S) violations of mandatory health and safety standards at their mines. An S&S violation is one that is reasonably likely to result in a serious injury or illness. In 2013, MSHA issued a final rule to improve the agency’s effectiveness in implementing its POV authority, found in the 1977 Mine Act, simplifying criteria and ensuring consistency in applying 30 CFR Part 104.
POV Determination Process
At least once a year, MSHA reviews the violation and injury history of each mine to determine whether any meet the established criteria to have a Pattern of Violations. The following two sets of screening criteria are used to perform the review required under 30 CFR §104.2.
Mines that meet all the criteria in either set will be further considered to determine whether the mine operator should be issued a Notice of Pattern of Violations.
- At least 50 citations/orders for S&S violations issued in the most recent 12 months.
- A rate of eight or more S&S citations/orders issued per 100 inspection hours during the most recent 12 months OR the degree of negligence for at least 25 percent of the S&S citations/orders issued during the most recent 12 months is “‘high” or “reckless disregard.”
- At least 0.5 elevated citations and orders (under Section 104(b); 104(d); 104(g); or 107(a) of the Mine Act) issued per 100 inspection hours during the most recent 12 months.
- An Injury Severity Measure (SM) for the mine that is greater than the overall Industry SM for all mines in the same mine type and classification over the most recent 12 months.
- At least 100 S&S citations/orders issued in the most recent 12 months.
- At least 40 elevated citations and orders (under Section 104(b); 104(d); 104(g); or 107(a) of the Mine Act) issued during the most recent 12 months.
When a mine is found to have a Pattern of Violations, the District Manager will issue a notice to the mine operator that specifies the basis for the agency's action and will provide a copy to the representative of miners.
If MSHA finds any S&S violation within 90 days after issuance of the pattern notice, the agency will issue an order for the withdrawal of miners from the affected area until the violation has been abated. If a withdrawal order is issued, any subsequent S&S violation will result in a withdrawal order that will remain in effect until MSHA determines that the violation has been abated.
The POV notice is in effect until MSHA does not issue a withdrawal order for a 90-day period or an MSHA inspection of the entire mine finds no S&S violations. Notwithstanding the above, the Secretary retains the enforcement discretion under the Mine Act to terminate a POV notice at any time.
Checking a POV status
It is the responsibility of mine operators to track their violation and injury histories to determine whether they need to take action to avoid triggering a POV notice. Operators can determine whether they may be subject to a POV notice by using the POV monitoring tool, which is updated monthly.
Operators who are at risk of receiving a POV notice are encouraged to implement a Corrective Action Program to reduce their S&S violation rate. The S&S Rate Calculator, which is updated daily, can be used to determine the current S&S rate and measure progress. MSHA will consider an operator's effective implementation of an MSHA-approved Corrective Action Program as a mitigating circumstance that may justify postponing or not issuing a POV notice.