Mining Publication: Roof Monitoring in Limestone - Experience with the Roof Monitoring Safety System (RMSS)
During the past few years, the Pittsburgh Research Laboratory of the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) examined and characterized conditions at a majority of the underground stone mines in the United States. Observations at these mines revealed a limited degree of roof monitoring beyond visual inspection and sounding. When monitors are used, they typically require the miner to measure movement at the roof. If conditions are unstable, the miner may be in a hazardous situation while recording data. Based on this scenario, researchers surmised that a simple, inexpensive monitor with the capability of recording data at a distance from the mine roof would be a safer way to gain the information. Additionally, more widespread use of monitors could potentially lead to better understanding of roof movement in general. A monitor to meet this need was designed, tested, and subsequently improved as experience was gained in its' use at a number of underground stone mines. The Roof Monitoring Safety system (RMSS) can provide and initial indication of movement in roof beams. By understanding and measuring roof movement in underground mines, the potential for injuries and fatalities to mine workers from falls of ground can be reduced. Also, officials at a mine with a history of data are better prepared to make a decision on remedial actions in the event of ground falls. This paper will outline the evolution of the RMSS and how it can be used in a comprehensive pro-active ground control safety program. Also included is a case history describing how the RMSS was used in an evaluation of the effectiveness of a mechanical impact scaling machine at an operating limestone mine.