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New MSHA fine structure “will not mean anything” without aggressive, comprehensive enforcement, UMWA says

date: 
March 22, 2007

For Immediate Release

Contact: Phil Smith, (703) 208-7241, 571-345-8338

New MSHA fine structure “will not mean anything” without aggressive, comprehensive enforcement, UMWA says

United Mine Workers of America International President Cecil E. Roberts issued the following statement today:
 
“The announcement of new final rules regarding penalties for mine safety violations by the federal Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) today raises hopes that the agency is serious about providing an incentive with teeth to improve mine operator compliance with mine safety and health laws. However, it remains to be seen if MSHA will actually shift its general attitude from ‘compliance counseling’ to being strict enforcers of the law.
 
“Without aggressive, comprehensive and even-handed enforcement of the law and this new penalty structure, this and other rules the agency may issue will not mean anything. Unless the fines are assessed, defended and collected in a regular and complete fashion, the actual levels of fines will mean little. MSHA needs to systematically support its inspectors in the field who write citations, meaning that upper management must be true watchdogs for miners’ safety instead of coddling operators who violate the law.
 
“Some say the levels of these fines are too high, that they will put small operators out of business. We say that if operators are not going to abide by the law and operate safe mines, they shouldn’t be in the coal mining business regardless of their company’s size. If higher penalties are what it takes to get law-breaking operators out of the coal business, then that’s a step in the right direction.”

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