Outby foreman Farley Sargent, 33, was working on June 25 at James River Coal’s McCoy Elkhorn complex in Pike County installing additional rib/roof support in the no. 5 belt/track entry.
He was wedging a timber against the roof when a section of the left-hand rib rolled over him.
The section of rock that fell on top of the victim, who had seven years experience, measured 14 feet in length by 4ft in height and was 17 inches thick.
In addition to stressing the need for examinations before any work or travel began in an area as well as when conditions warranted, the US Mine Safety and Health Administration reminded workers at US operations to support or scale loose material before travel and to rope off areas of hazard until they could be made safe.
Operations should take additional safety precautions as mining heights increased because rib fall injury rates could increase substantially along with the rise in mining height.
When unstable ribs are present underground, crews should control the issue with rib bolting.
The bolts are the best protection against rib falls; they are most effective when installed on cycle and in a consistent pattern.
Finally, MSHA reiterated that miners, while ensuring the operation’s roof control plan was followed at all times, should also be alert to changing geologic conditions.
If adverse conditions are found, the RCP may need to be revised.
Sargent’s death was the tenth in US coal in 2012 and the second of the year to be classified as a fall of rib fatality.
The McCoy Elkhorn complex sprawls across Kentucky’s Pike and Floyd counties with room-and-pillar underground mines and highwall mining employed on surface operations.
James River Coal produced 10.3 million tons of coal in 2011 through its eight operating subsidiaries located in Kentucky, West Virginia and southern Indiana.