NIOSHTIC-2 Publications Search

Reducing injuries from the fall of rock in underground coal mines.

Molinda GM; Dolinar DR; Robertson SB
NOIRS 2003-Abstracts of the National Occupational Injury Research Symposium 2003, October 28-30, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Pittsburgh, PA: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, 2003 Oct; :33
Over a 5-year period (1995-2000), an average of 620 injuries per year were caused by rock falls in U.S. underground mines. These include many crushing and disabling injuries, and almost all occurred where miners were beneath roof support. NIOSH research has indicated that a paradigm shift in traditional thinking about the relative risk of rock fall injuries in coal mines has the potential to dramatically reduce the number of injuries. NIOSH research has focused on identifying (1) conditions where existing support systems are inadequate and (2) the best available technology to upgrade the supports. A roof hazard rating system (SCALE) has been developed that uses roof damage and geologic assessment of roof rocks to indicate a potential injury hazard. The system, calibrated with underground data, can be used in continuous evaluation of the working face. Research at underground mines proves that roof screening on cycle, especially in weak rock, can reduce injuries. Time studies show that additional time for roof screening at the face can be reduced to acceptable levels. There are a number of "best practices," including "prelinking" of roof screens, reinforced and flush-cut screens, and 2-inch screens for small rocks, that may help reduce injuries. Alternative roof support (large pans, short channels, rebolt nuts) are options that provide additional roof coverage. Advances in roof bolting machines, including mesh handling systems, walk-through capability, ventilation tube handling systems, and rock shields, reduce worker exposure to rock falls and potential materials handling injuries. Sealant and coating products and an innovative air conditioning technique are options for preventing the approximately 10%-20% of the injuries caused by the long-term deterioration of roof rocks from moisture.
Ground control; Rock falls; Underground mining; Coal mining; Injuries; Injury prevention; Accident prevention
NIOSH Pittsburgh Research Laboratory, P.O. Box 18070, Pittsburgh, PA 15236
Publication Date
Document Type
Abstract; Conference/Symposia Proceedings
Fiscal Year
NIOSH Division
Priority Area
Research Tools and Approaches: Control Technology and Personal Protective Equipment
Source Name
NOIRS 2003-Abstracts of the National Occupational Injury Research Symposium 2003, October 28-30, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Page last reviewed: June 15, 2021
Content source: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Education and Information Division