The Mine Safety and Health Administration said that it is re-launching its annual Preventive Roof/Rib Outreach Program (PROP) to expand awareness among coal miners and mine operators of roof and rib fall hazards.
The federal agency said that underground coal mine accidents from roof falls, rib falls, and coal bursts are still a leading cause of injuries, even though roof control technology improvements have reduced incident numbers significantly.
MSHA will distribute informational posters to underground coal mines during regular inspections. The program also includes discussions on mine safety with groups of working miners.
Since 2013, MSHA said roof falls, rib falls, or coal bursts led to the deaths of five continuous mining machine operators and injured 83 other operators.
The 2017 PROP program, launched July 6, 2017, and scheduled to run through September 2017, targets continuous mining machine operator safety.
MSHA inspectors are educating miners and operators on best practices for preventing roof fall accidents, including:
- Closely monitor coal rib deterioration, which may occur after mining.
- Install rib bolts, which provide the best protection against rib falls.
- Follow the approved roof control plan to address adverse conditions that may be present.
- Use straps, pizza pans, or screen wire mesh where loose roofs or ribs may be encountered.
- Conduct thorough examinations and watch for changing roof or rib conditions.
- Ensure that pillar dimensions and mining methods are suitable for the conditions, and make certain that roof or rib control methods are adequate for the depth of cover.