Proceedings of the American Society of Safety Engineers Professional Development and Conference, Las Vegas, Nevada, June 7-10, 2004. Des Plaines, IL: American Society of Safety Engineers, 2004 Jun; :1-17
There has been significant progress in reducing the risk of serious injury or death for underground coal miners. In 2003, there were 15 fatalities, which was the lowest recorded number since coal mining began in the United States. Even so, there is still room for improvement and a need for systematic research. The risk of serious injury in mines will always exist as workers are still exposed to hazards due to the inherent nature and challenges of underground coal mining. During 1998-2003, 17% of all underground coal mining injuries happened during roof bolting activities, which is the most high-risk job of all face worker activities. Excluding fatalities, 66% of these injuries involved days lost, with an average of 38 actual days lost per injury. In response to these losses, attention has focused on reducing the risk of injury to roof bolter operators. This paper describes, in three different sections, the efforts of safety researchers and machine manufacturers to reduce the number of injuries to roof bolter operators affected by three factors: worker decisions and actions, the condition of the underground working environment, and machine technology. The first section describes effective innovations in roof bolter training that integrate safety, production, and maintenance. The second section discusses research findings on how to reduce rock fall injuries, which are the main cause of roof bolter operator injuries. The third section presents advancements in roof bolting technology that increase the safety of roof bolter operators.
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