Coal miners, especially roof bolter and continuous miner operators, work in a hazardous underground environment where they are often exposed to poor roof conditions. Nearly 500 rock fall injuries are reported each year, and 99% of them are caused by rocks falling from between the roof bolts. These loose rocks that injure miners are usually just a few inches thick, but on average weigh 280 pounds. NIOSH has found that most rock fall injuries can be prevented by installing roof screen during the bolting cycle. Roof screen is a sheet made of steel wires in a grid pattern. When screen is bolted up against the mine roof, it provides far more coverage than any common surface control used in the mines today. Because more mine roof is covered, there is less chance that a rock will fall and injure a miner. The facts about roof screen are shown in the new NIOSH video entitled "Make It Safer With Roof Screen." Using extensive underground footage, the 7-minute video shows how well screen keeps loose rock from falling in difficult roof conditions. Techniques for installing screen from both outside-controlled and walk-thru roof bolting machines are shown. The video also provides safe handling tips, best practices, and information about machine technology that can greatly improve material handling. An instructional booklet supplements the video with additional information.
NIOSH Pittsburgh Research Laboratory, P.O. Box 18070, Pittsburgh, PA 15236