Last Tuesday Joseph Sabo suffered fatal injuries when a rib roll occurred whilst he was operating an integrated bolting machine.
This year, four miners have been victims of fatal accidents involving falls of roof or rib in underground mines nationwide. This compares with a total of three roof fall fatalities for all of calendar year 2003.
Last week MSHA issued a letter to mine operators expressing concern over the number of roof fall accidents in underground mines, and asked mine operators to take specific steps to ensure miners were working safely and under properly evaluated conditions.
The steps included:
Meet with all underground miners and reiterate that they must never work or travel under unsupported roof, and that they must always follow the provisions of the approved roof control plan.
Remind mine examiners of the necessity of making frequent and thorough work place examinations that could detect changing roof, rib and face conditions.
Remind employees to use the sight, sound and vibration method of roof evaluation to determine if the roof is competent, and to consistently scale all loose rock or ribs prior to starting work.
When adverse roof conditions are encountered, miners should install additional roof support.
Make sure workers, particularly new employees, are properly and adequately trained in effective roof control procedures.
“We do not know the cause of this most recent accident, but we are actively seeking solutions to end roof fall accidents. Even though mine safety has improved significantly over the past several years both miners and mine operators are encouraged to focus on the hazards in the work environment that can harm or fatally injure miners,” said MSHA assistant secretary David Lauriski.