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Mining Project: Development of Guidelines for the Design of Support Systems to Manage Coal Mine Rib Hazards

Principal Investigator
  • Khaled Mohamed, NIOSH OMSHR, 412-386-4077
Start Date10/1/2011

To develop guidelines for determining the appropriate level of support and design methods for support systems to minimize the risk and severity of injuries to miners from rib falls in underground coal mines.

Topic Area

Research Summary

This project has four research aims, as follows:

  1. Determine the critical design parameters and criteria for rib-bolt-based support systems for controlling coal mine ribs.
  2. Evaluate the interaction of coal rib and rib-bolt-based support systems at specific sites to assist in the development of design standards through instrumented field sites and numerical modeling.
  3. Evaluate prop-type supports in the laboratory.
  4. Develop a logical framework to be used to implement the rib support guidelines and design methodology.

There have been four fatal rib fall incidents accounting for nearly 36% of fatal ground falls for the period of 2011-2013 in U.S. underground coal mines. Further, rib fall incidents cause about 19% of the ground fall injuries. Of those injuries, 22% result in lost-time accidents with an average of over 100 days lost per incident.

This project attempts to reduce these hazards by developing guidelines and support methodologies for coal ribs. Rib support guidelines and methodologies will be developed to minimize the risk and severity of injuries to coal miners. The effectiveness of these guidelines will be evaluated using a collected database, laboratory testing, and numerical modeling. The goal is to reduce the level of exposure to rib instabilities by at least 25%.

Coal rib guidelines and design methodologies will be developed based on a database of operating underground coal mines. Design guidelines will be developed using numerical models. Finally, rib stability will be evaluated at several operating mines using the design guidelines and methodologies developed.

The impact of this research will be a reduction in the frequency and severity of injuries due to rib instabilities. The experienced reduction will depend on the mining conditions, but in many instances the hazard to the miner will be removed.