MSHA encourages roof, rib exams

THE US Mine Safety and Health Administration is asking mines to use adequate support and perform examinations of roof and rib after the death of a Kentucky worker in late January.
MSHA encourages roof, rib exams MSHA encourages roof, rib exams MSHA encourages roof, rib exams MSHA encourages roof, rib exams MSHA encourages roof, rib exams

The scene of a January 2010 fatality in Kentucky. Courtesy MSHA.

Donna Schmidt

Continuous miner operator Travis Glenn Brock, 29, was working at Bledsoe Coal’s Abner Branch operation in Leslie County January 22 when he was struck by a rib roll.

“The victim was operating a remote-control continuous mining machine to clean a previously bolted crosscut when he was struck by the coal rib and pinned against the mine floor,” federal officials said, noting that the fallen debris measured about 70 inches high, 63in long and 103in wide.

An MSHA spokesperson detailed shortly after the incident that Brock, who had 12 years of experience, was cleaning up the crosscut between the No. 2 and No. 3 entries at the mine. While a foreman reported having heard the roll, he was not an eyewitness.

Bledsoe Coal is owned by James River Coal.

To help prevent future such incidents at other US operations, MSHA has released a collection of best practices. They include:

Conduct a thorough visual examination of the roof, face and ribs immediately before any work or travel is started in an area and thereafter as conditions warrant;

Adequately support or scale any loose rib or roof material before beginning work;

Perform careful examinations of pillar corners, particularly where the angles formed between entries and crosscuts are less than 90 degrees;

Permanently support openings that create an intersection before any work or travel in the intersection; and

Be alert to changing geologic conditions which may affect roof/rib conditions.

The agency has encouraged anyone with additional prevention ideas to submit them through its website, including the year of the fatality and the fatality number.

According to federal data, Abner Branch had three non-fatal days lost operator injuries in 2009. Its total NFDL incidence rate for the year was 2.55 versus the national average of 4.22.

Brock’s death is the second coal fatality in 2010 – as of press time no others had been reported – and the first MSHA has classified as Fall of Face, Rib, Pillar or Highwall this year.

It is the first mining fatality in Kentucky this year.