Be aware of roof conditions: MSHA

THE US Mine Safety and Health Administration has issued a series of best practices for operations after one worker was killed last month in Pennsylvania in a roof fall.
Be aware of roof conditions: MSHA Be aware of roof conditions: MSHA Be aware of roof conditions: MSHA Be aware of roof conditions: MSHA Be aware of roof conditions: MSHA

An illustration of the June 23, 2009 accident at Consol's Bailey mine.

Donna Schmidt

Robert Maust, 54, was at the Consol Energy Bailey longwall mine’s 4 West section, currently under development, at about 11pm on June 23 when a piece of shale measuring 4 feet long, 3ft wide and 9-11 inches in thickness struck a roof bolter.

He was setting a roof jack on the left inby corner of the crosscut between the No. 2 entry and No. 1 entry when he was also struck by the roof rock.

According to MSHA spokesperson Amy Louviere in last month’s preliminary report, the No. 2 entry of 4 West had progressed to about 20ft inby the left crosscut. The agency noted this week that a portion of the corner where the incident occurred had been mined, a move which was common practice at Bailey.

In hopes of preventing similar accidents at other US underground coal operations, MSHA released a collection of best practices. They include:

Know and follow the approved roof control plan;

Be alert to changing roof conditions at all times;

Use roof bolting machines equipped with an ATRS to install roof supports rather than manually setting roof jacks; and

Prior to manually installing temporary roof support, visually examine the roof first, and then test the roof.

MSHA encouraged anyone with additional prevention ideas to submit them through its website, including the year of the incident and number of fatalities.

Maust’s death was the eighth in the industry in the 2009 calendar year and the first classified by MSHA under fall of roof.

According to MSHA statistics, the mine’s last fatal operator injury was recorded in 2000.

Bailey’s non-fatal days lost incident rate in 2008 was 2.09 (from 18 NFDL operator and 12 NFDL contractor injuries) versus the national average of 4.25.

The mine was the top producer in terms of tonnage in 2008 with 9.9 million tons. It has dual panel faces and 11 entry mains.

With a total crew of 490, Bailey produces 15.5% of Consol's total underground production.