MORGANTOWN, W.Va. (AP) -- The U.S. Department of Labor has approved new rules it says will improve safety at the nation's most dangerous mines by revising the way operators are designated pattern violators.
Labor Secretary Hilda Solis said Thursday they improve the Mine Safety and Health Administration's ability to hold mine operators accountable for disregarding life-saving safety measures.
MSHA chief Joe Main says they're long overdue and could prevent 1,800 injures over 10 years.
The changes were proposed less than a year after the Upper Big Branch mine exploded in April 2010, killing 29 men.
Among other things, they let MSHA designate a company a pattern violator without a prior warning.
They also eliminate the requirement that MSHA can consider only final orders, meaning its hands are no longer tied when operators appeal violations.