A Louisiana mine operator was issued a pattern of violations (POV) notice from the U.S. Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) after receiving numerous “significant and substantial” (S&S) citations.
Atalco Gramercy LLC, the operator of Gramercy Operation in Gramercy, Louisiana, had 106 S&S violations from May 1, 2022, through April 30, 2023, leading to the POV notice.
S&S violations are considered by MSHA to be “reasonably likely to lead to a reasonably serious injury or illness.”
Once MSHA identifies a mine exhibiting a pattern of S&S violations, the agency is authorized to issue a POV notice – one of MSHA’s toughest enforcement actions. POV notices are typically issued to mine operators “who are chronic violators and demonstrate a disregard for the safety and health of miners.”
Mine had 34 violations due to high negligence, reckless disregard
Of the 106 S&S violations Gramercy was accused of, 34 were due to high negligence or reckless disregard. Four of these were training-related and resulted in elevated orders from MSHA to withdraw untrained miners immediately because they presented a hazard to themselves and others.
The agency determined that Gramercy’s S&S rate per 100 inspection hours was 9.54, compared to the national average of 8.09 for metal and non-metal facilities.
MSHA also identified a pattern of S&S violations related to caustic spills and leaks found during inspections that were initiated after the agency received complaints about hazardous conditions at the mine.
Conditions of POV notice
If a mine continues to commit S&S violations after receiving a POV notice, federal law requires MSHA to withdraw miners from the affected area except those who are necessary to correct the violation.
Mine operators can be removed from POV notice sanctions if no S&S violations are found within 90 days of the notice’s issuance. After the 90-day period, MSHA can terminate a POV designation after an inspection of the entire mine finds no S&S violations.