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Interpreting MSHA Citations Through the Lens of Occupational Health and Safety Management Systems: Investigating Their Impact on Mine Injuries and Illnesses 2003–2010



Since the late 1980s, the U.S. Department of Labor has considered regulating a systems approach to occupational health and safety management. Recently, a health and safety management systems (HSMS) standard has returned to the regulatory agenda of both the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and the Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA). Because a mandated standard has implications for both industry and regulating bodies alike, it is imperative to gain a greater understanding of the potential effects that an HSMS regulatory approach can have on establishment-level injuries and illnesses. Through the lens of MSHA's regulatory framework, we first explore how current enforcement activities align with HSMS elements. Using MSHA data for the years 2003–2010, we then analyze the relationship between various types of enforcement activities (e.g., total number of citations, total penalty amount, and HSMS-aligned citations) and mine reportable injuries. Our findings show that the reduction in mine reportable injuries predicted by increases in MSHA enforcement ranges from negligible to 18%. The results suggest that the type and focus of the enforcement activity may be more important for accident reduction than the total number of citations issued and the associated penalty amount.

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