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Major hazard risk assessment applied to pillar recovery operations.

Iannacchione-AT; Mark-C
Proceedings of the 28th International Conference on Ground Control in Mining, July 28-30, 2009, Morgantown, West Virginia. Peng SS, Barczak T, Mark C, Tadolini S, Finfinger G, Heasley K, Luo Y, eds. Morgantown, WV: West Virginia University, 2009 Jul; :261-270
Recent fatal injuries occurring during pillar retreat coal mining call for better identification of the hazards and recognition of risks. Ground control hazards associated with room-and-pillar retreat mining tend to intensify with depth, requiring extra precautions in the form of additional controls. In many locations these activities are further complicated by local complexities often associated with unique or novel circumstances, such as over-mining or undermining. One technique recently studied by NIOSH, Major Hazard Risk Assessment (MHRA), may help mine operators to mitigate the risks associated with pillar recovery operations. The approach was trialed at two underground coal mines in southern West Virginia that are currently practicing pillar recovery. The first step in the MHRA process involved reviewing the segments or parts of the pillar extraction mining system and identifying associated hazards and threats to the operation. Some of the high risk hazards at these two sites included: Rock fall during pillar extraction covers equipment and injury occurs during recovery operations, Rock fall above the roof bolt horizon, potentially injuring workers and/or requiring recovery action, Rib fall under deep cover, potentially injuring workers, and; Strata instabilities associated with subsidence of the interburden due to simultaneously mining two seams in close vertical proximity to one another. The mines' risk assessment teams then considered each threat individually in order to systematically identify potential unwanted events. The top unwanted events were examined individually using structured risk analysis tools. The output from the process includes a list of priority existing controls for monitoring and auditing, and a second list of potential new controls. These controls consisted of: Examples of best practices, Enhanced communication, Implementing standard operating procedures (SOP), Protocols for emergency response actions, Effective layouts, Efficient monitoring, and; Successful audits. This paper documents the process as it unfolded at the two mines, and analyzes the strengths and weaknesses of the MHRA technique as it applies to pillar recovery operations. This work was part of a larger NIOSH research project. NIOSH was responsible for: 1) facilitating the risk assessment process known as Major Hazard Risk Assessment (MHRA), 2) documenting the risk assessment process, and 3) providing mine management with a written draft summary of the risk assessment process. The results of the risk assessment represent the thoughts and opinions of the individual risk assessment teams and should in no way be construed as an endorsement of the risk assessment output by NIOSH or the University of Pittsburgh.
Coal-miners; Coal-mining; Coal-workers; Ground-control; Ground-stability; Injuries; Mine-shafts; Mining-industry; Occupational-hazards; Risk-analysis; Room-and-pillar-mining; Safety-measures; Safety-practices; Safety-programs; Underground-mining; Work-areas; Work-environment; Work-operations; Work-performance; Work-practices; Workplace-studies
Publication Date
Document Type
Conference/Symposia Proceedings
Peng-SS; Barczak-T; Mark-C; Tadolini-S; Finfinger-G; Heasley-K; Luo-Y
Fiscal Year
NIOSH Division
Priority Area
Source Name
Proceedings of the 28th International Conference on Ground Control in Mining, July 28-30, 2009, Morgantown, West Virginia
Page last reviewed: September 2, 2020
Content source: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Education and Information Division