Feds OK rules in effort to improve mine safety

By Vicki Smith

Associated Press

Published: Thursday, Jan. 17 2013 9:10 p.m. MST

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — New federal rules approved Thursday could help save lives at dangerous mines with a pattern of safety violations and put more responsibility on companies to find and fix hazards, the U.S. Department of Labor said.

The changes were first proposed less than a year after the Upper Big Branch mine exploded in April 2010, killing 29 men. It was the worst U.S. coal mine disaster in four decades.

Among other things, the rules let MSHA designate a company a pattern violator without a prior warning. They also eliminate the requirement that MSHA can consider only final orders; previously, the agency could not impose the designation until the operators finished appealing violations, which could take months or years.

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