Mining Publication: An Analysis of the Potential of Roof Screening to Reduce Workers' Compensation Costs
Each year more than 400 coal miners are injured (fatal and non-fatal) by rock falling from between or around roof supports. Many of these injuries could be prevented by the installation of roof screen (wire mesh). However, many coal mines may be reluctant to use roof screen because of the added cost. The goal of this study was to determine the potential saving in workers' compensation (WC) premiums that could be achieved due to a reduction in rock fall injuries after roof screening. The WC rate-setting methods utilized by IL and KY were investigated in this study. Using actual data obtained from MSHA, national and state WC bodies and individual insurance companies (e.g. average cost per injury, loss cost rate, number of injuries per year, number of injuries preventable each year with roof screening), hypothetical mines (representing two mine sizes: 67 and 150 employees) were constructed with realistic ranges for estimates of injuries and WC premium costs. Using each state’s actual WC rate-setting formulas, total savings in WC costs after a three-year period were determined. Across both states, savings in WC premiums ranged from 1.8% to 14.6% when injuries were reduced by 10% to 20%. Additionally, an economic analysis was performed for an existing mine consisting of 67 employees. For this mine, the annual cost of a roof screening program was estimated at $240,000. If the screening prevented 13 "struck by" WC claims over a 3-year period at this mine, the reduction in WC premiums alone could pay for the entire screening program.