An analysis of roof bolter fatalities and injuries in U.S. mining
Transactions of the Society for Mining, Metallurgy, and Exploration
, 2016, Vol. 340, No. 1, pp. 11-20
Sammarco, J.J.; Podlesny, A.; Rubinstein, E.N.; Demich, B.
Roof bolting typically follows the extraction of a commodity to help keep the roof from collapsing. During 2004 to 2013, roof bolter operators had the highest number of machinery-related injuries, accounting for 64.7 percent, at underground coal mines. This paper analyzes U.S. roof bolter fatal and nonfatal lost-time injury data at underground work locations for all commodities from 2004 through 2013 and determines risk indices for six roof bolting tasks. For fatal and nonfatal incidences combined, the roof bolting tasks in order of the highest to lowest risk index were bolting, handling of materials, setting the temporary roof support (TRS), drilling, tramming, and traversing. For fatalities, the roof bolting tasks in order of the highest to lowest risk index were handling of materials, setting the TRS, bolting, drilling, traversing, and tramming. Age was found to be a significant factor. Severity of injury, indicated by days lost, was found to increase with increasing age as well as with increasing experience, largely due to the confounding of age and experience. The operation of the roof bolting machine used in underground mining should be a research priority given the high frequency and severity of incidents. The results also suggest that temporal factors may exist, so additional research is warranted to better understand these factors and potentially develop interventions. This research provides a data-driven foundation from which future research can be conducted for safety interventions to reduce the frequency and severity of incidences involving the roof bolter activities of bolting, handling of materials, and setting the TRS.