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New Online Tool Helps MSHA Detect Flagrant Violations

MSHA announced that its Inspectors’ Portable Application for Laptops (IPAL) is now equipped with an online tool to alert federal inspectors that certain violations will be reviewed for special assessment as flagrant violations. MSHA Administrator Joseph A. Main said this tool will help inspectors cite violations “efficiently and accurately.”

The Mine Improvement and New Emergency Response Act of 2006 established a provision for a flagrant violation, which is defined as “a reckless or repeated failure to make reasonable efforts to eliminate a known violation of a mandatory safety and health standard that substantially and proximately caused, or reasonably could have been expected to cause, death or serious bodily injury.” Under the MINER Act, a civil penalty of up to $220,000 may be assessed for each flagrant violation.

Flagrant violations cited by MSHA inspectors must meet specific evaluation criteria for reckless or repeated failure violations, including:

  • A citation or order is evaluated as significant and substantial.
  • An injury or illness is evaluated as at least permanently disabling.
  • A citation or order is evaluated as an unwarrantable failure.
  • Negligence is evaluated as reckless disregard.
  • At least two prior “unwarrantable failure” violations of the same safety or health standard have been cited within the past 15 months.
  • A violation is caused by an unwarrantable failure if the operator has engaged in “aggravated conduct constituting more than ordinary negligence.”


When an inspector electronically enters a violation that meets the criteria for review as a potential flagrant violation, IPAL will display a pop-up message reminding the inspector to complete a Special Assessment Review Form for that violation. The form automatically will open after the warning message has displayed.

The IPAL enables mine inspectors to electronically access a wide variety of data, including accident and injury information, inspection and violation history, incidence rates, the Code of Federal Regulations, the Federal Mine Safety and Health Act of 1977 and the MINER Act.

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