MSHA: What’s the Real Impact of Fines on Mine Safety?

Late in 2014, MSHA made headlines when an investigation revealed that nearly $70 million in health and safety penalties had yet to be paid by mining company owners. The joint investigation by news agency NPR and Mine Safety and Health News found that most of these unpaid penalties were between two and 10 years overdue.

In response to the pressure that followed this report, a federal investigation was launched that will focus on the penalty assessment and collection process at MSHA. More recently, a similar report by SNL Energy showed that U.S. coal producers owed more than $62 million in unpaid health and safety violations fines. Again, most of these citations were at least two years old. So why has MSHA not collected this money?

Typically, the process goes like this: MSHA issues a fine. Once the company has been notified, mine operators have 30 days to pay the fine. … Read more...