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Profile of groundfall incidents in underground coal mines.
Pappas DM; Mark C
Min Eng 2003 Sep; 55(9):65-71
Between 1995 and 2001, groundfall incidents resulted in 69 fatalities and were responsible for 47% of all deaths in U.S. underground bituminous coal mines. To better understand where and why these incidents occur, a comprehensive analysis of groundfall injuries and reportable noninjury roof falls was conducted. Using Mine safety and Health Administration data from 1995 through 2001, the study examined the effects of mining method, mine size, seam thickness, and season on roof and rib fall injury rates and reportable noninjury roof fall rates. In addition, for the first time, groundfall rates were calculated for individual coalbeds. The study found that room-and-pillar mines had significantly higher groundfall rates than longwall mines. Small room-and-pillar mines with fewer than 50 workers were found to have high groundfall fatality rates. Another significant conclusion was that high groundfall rates occurred in regions where there were numerous problematic coalbeds, such as in the Illinois Basin. This seems to correlate to other studies that have shown that the compressive strengths of typical roof rocks in the Illinois basin are much lower than those of their counterparts in the central Appalachian coalfields. Finally, roof fall rates nationwide were found to be 50% higher between July and September, possibly because of changes in humidity levels that may be causing shale mine roofs to deteriorate.
Underground mining; Coal mining; Ground control; Injuries; Longwall mining; Room and pillar mining; Traumatic injuries; Mining industry; Injury prevention; Accident prevention
National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, Pittsburgh Research Laboratory, P.O. Box 18070, Pittsburgh, PA 15236
Issue of Publication
Research Tools and Approaches: Control Technology and Personal Protective Equipment
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Page last reviewed: March 3, 2021
Content source: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Education and Information Division