United States
Department of Labor

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Roof and Rib - Safety Alert

From January 2017 to August 2021, the coal mining industry experienced 1,967 roof and rib accidents.  Of these, there were 9 fatal accidents and 570 lost time accidents; 83% of these accidents were the result of rocks falling between bolts and 13% were from rib rolls on continuous mining sections or onto longwall face conveyors.  

From January 2017 to August 2021, the coal mining industry experienced 1,967 roof and rib accidents.
Best Practices: 
  • Conduct thorough pre-shift and on-shift examinations of the roof, face, and ribs and conduct examinations thereafter as conditions warrant.
  • Be alert for changing conditions and report abnormal roof or rib conditions to mine management and other miners.
  • Rib support may be necessary when the mining height increases, when rock partings are present in the rib, or when encountering deeper cover.
  • Install rib bolts with adequate surface area coverage during the mining cycle and in a consistent pattern for the best protection against rib falls.
  • The approved roof control plan contains minimum requirements – know and follow the plan, provide additional support when and where needed.
  • Adequately support or scale any loose roof or rib material from a safe location, use a bar of suitable length and design when scaling.
  • While roof bolting, ensure that ATRS systems are maintained in good working condition and firmly placed against the mine roof.
  • Utilize skin control products such as straps, wire mesh, pizza pans etc. to help control rock falls between bolts.
  • When working near the longwall face, support the exposed roof and face by mechanical means in the immediate work area.