Following 10 incidents of roof collapses in July and August, the Mine Safety and Health Agency has issued a safety alert to warn employers and employees about the dangers of roof falls.

MSHA said the roof failures occurred while employees were working in sections in which the roofs had been bolted. It said there were no injuries from those falls, but roof fall-ins by the loading point are “particularly dangerous because they occur where most miners work.”

In the new safety alert, the agency said that, if miners use certain “best practices,” these types of roof falls can be reduced, and even eliminated.
The “best practices” include:

  • Know the approved roof control plan and follow it.
  • Conduct frequent examinations of roofs, alert to changing conditions that may affect roof or rib conditions.
  • Install additional roof or rib support when encountering or expecting adverse conditions.
  • Use supplemental support for immediate roof control, such as screens, steel straps, header boards, or larger roof bolt plates.
  • Withdraw equipment immediately if a roof becomes unstable during retreat mining.
  • Use extra support near the last row of bolts to prevent a roof fall that initiates in the unbolted cut from extending outby, when appropriate.
  • Use test holes to check for cracks and other hazards above the roof bolts.
  • Tell mine management and other miners about unusual roof or rib conditions.
  • Never travel under an unsupported roof.