On Wednesday, August 20, a 52-year old section foreman with 19 years mining experience was fatally injured when he was struck by falling roof rock while bending over to help lift and hang a continuous mining machine cable. The section of roof measured approximately 11'x 4' x 3" and fell from between permanent roof supports.
The tragedy marked the 22nd coal mine fatality reported this year, and the first involving a roof fall. Last year 20 lives were lost in the coal mining industry, with four involving roof falls.
The U.S. Department of Labor’s Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) advised a number of best practice measures workers should follow to avoid a similar tragedy re-occurring.
A thorough visual examination of the roof, face, and ribs should be conducted immediately before any work is started, and thereafter as conditions warrant.
Sound and vibration roof tests should be carried out where appropriate and miners should always be alert for changing roof conditions.
Workers should know and follow the provisions of the approved roof control plan and additional roof supports should be added where necessary.