Roof Screening For Underground Coal Mines: Recent Developments
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Roof Screening For Underground Coal Mines: Recent Developments

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  • Description:
    The failure of the immediate roof or "roof skin" between installed primary and secondary roof supports causes hundreds of injuries and, on average one or two fatalities each year in U.S. underground coal mines. Conventional roof supports cannot cover enough roof area to adequately control these relatively small, but very dangerous rock falls. The 2006 Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) accident database lists a total of 542 ground fall injuries, including 10 fatalities. An analysis of the database suggests that 434 of the injuries and three of the fatali­ties can be attributed to roof skin falls (See Figure 2). The key to controlling falls of the immediate roof or roof skin is maximizing the area of roof coverage ilnd confining these relatively small loose rocks. Roof screen offers maximum coverage of the immediate roof. Depending on the size and configuration of the screen panels, coverage of up to 100% of the roof area is possi­ble. Screen also offers a first line of defense for machine operators working in the face area by confining or deflecting small rocks that can come loose during mining or roof bolt installation. Figure 1 shows an example of the protection screen provides dur­ing bolt installation. Although the benefits of screen are well-known, mining com­panies in some areas of the U.S., mainly Northern Appalachia and the Illinois basin, are not convinced that roof screen is the best tool for dealing with roof skin control issues. The logistics of material handling, possible ergonomic injuries to workers, and the costs associated with installation are delaying the acceptance of screen as an on-cycle roof support tool. Other mines however, have concluded that installing roof screen can be cost-effective when compared to the cost of lost time accidents, training of replacement workers, or returning to already developed entries for the cleaning and rebolting process.
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