Mining Publication: Potential of Roof Screening to Reduce Workers’ Compensation Cost
Each year more than 400 coal miners are injured (fatally and nonfatally) by rock falling from between or around roof supports. Many of these injuries can be prevented by the installation of roof screen. However, many coal mines are reluctant to use roof screen because of the added cost. The goal of this study was to determine the potential savings in workers’ compensation (WC) premiums that can be achieved due to a reduction in rock fall injuries after roof screening. The WC rate-setting methods utilized by Illinois and Kentucky were investigated in this study. Using data obtained from the Mine Safety and Health Administration, 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), baseline 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, a sensitivity analysis was conducted to determine the total savings in WC costs after a three-year period. Annual savings in WC premiums ranged from $41,000 to $326,000 for the 67-person mine, and $96,000 to $843,000 for the 150-person mine. An economic analysis of the cost of a roof screening program at a 67-person mine was also conducted. The annual cost of a roof screening program here was estimated at $240,000. At this mine, the reduction in WC premiums alone could pay for the entire screening program.