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Best Practices To Mitigate Injuries And Fatalities From Rock Falls - Introduction
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    Falls of ground continue to be one of the most serious causes of injury to U.S. miners. Of the 256 fatal injuries that occurred in mining between 1996 and 1998, 52 (20%) were caused by falls of ground (Table I). Falls of ground affect some sectors of the mining industry more severely than others. For instance, nearly 40% of the 98 coal mine fatalities between 1996 and 1998 were caused by falls of ground. Underground miners are at much greater risk than surface miners. Nearly half (45 out of 101) of underground mine fatalities were attributed to roof, rib and face falls, while less than 5% of the 155 surface fatalities were caused by falls of highwalls or slopes. Sources of Data All of the injury data examined in this study were derived from MSHA’s Fatal Investigation Reports (www.msha.gov)and the MSHA accident database. Because falls of ground often result in serious injury, MSHA Fatal Alert Bulletins and Fatal Investigation Reports provide a useful snapshot of ground control issues in the mining industry. MSHA requires that mines file a report on every reportable accident that occurs, containing information on the accident’s location, severity, classification, activity, and nature of injury, etc. A short narrative is generally included as well. Accident reports can be searched by many of the above fields. From 1996 to 1998, miners suffered a total of 55,096 injuries, which ranged in severity from death (degree 1) to injuries with no days away from work nor restricted duty (degree 6). Six percent of the total injuries were from falls of ground, including machine accidents where caving rock was coded as the source. As the data in Table II indicate, 98% of all non-fatal fall of ground injuries occurred in underground mines, with underground coal mines accounting for 83% of the total. Table II also shows the distribution non-fatal fall of ground injuries by severity and commodity. The injuries are classified into Lost Time Injuries that resulted in permanent disability (degree 2) or days off work (degrees 3-4), and Injuries Without Lost Time that resulted in no more than restricted duty (degree 5-6). Overall, groundfall injuries appear to be more serious than other types of mining injuries. 65% of all ground fall injuries resulted in lost time compared to 54% of all types of mining injuries.

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