MSHA Resumes Roof Fall Outreach Campaign

The arrival of summer means roof falls and rib rolls increase, the agency says. MSHA inspectors will be discussing this with miners and operators through Sept. 30.

MSHA's annual Preventive Roof/Rib Outreach Program is again reaching out to miners and mine operators about the hazards of roof falls and rib rolls because more of them occur in the summer months than at any other time of year, according to MSHA data. Because a recent study revealed 80 percent of roof fall injury accidents occur under supported roof, MSHA's slogan for 2009 is "Just because it's supported doesn't mean it's safe."

Roof falls increase because warm air carries moisture into mines. The moisture is absorbed into the roof strata and may weaken the roof, making it easier for the mine roof to fall. A rib roll is loose material falling from a pillar or barrier of coal left for support.

"A mine's roof control plan specifies the minimum roof support required under normal conditions, but those minimum requirements no longer apply when adverse conditions are encountered," said Michael A. Davis, MSHA's deputy assistant secretary for operations.

Through Sept. 30, MSHA inspectors will talk to miners about the necessity of conducting thorough mine examinations and will advise decreasing roof bolt spacing when needed and use wire mesh when appropriate to prevent injuries when rock falls between bolts.

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