Root Causes of Groundfall Related Incidents in U.S. Mining Industry

Biswas, Kousick
Organization: International Conference on Ground Control in Mining
Pages: 9
Publication Date: Jan 1, 2003
The main objective of occupational health and safety research is to minimize or eliminate the events that may cause fatal or non¬fatal injuries to human workers. A commonly used technique is to devise an "incident prevention plan", which is more often the product of thorough investigations of past reported incident events. Incident documentation and methodical reporting and systematic and thorough data collection, often help identify the root cause of the incident - in other words, the etiology of the incident. These retrospective analyses of the incidents can efficiently identify the future steps to take to achieve the objective of minimizing occurrence of "events of interest". This paper introduces a novel technique - "Taxonomic Analysis", which identifies the root causes of an event (an incident in this case) and can provide future direction for corrective measures to reduce the probability of occurrence of the event. A taxonomic analysis involves systematic and organization of data based on observation, description, and classification. This paper utilizes the rock fall related incident narratives, available with the Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) database (1984¬1999), for a taxonomic analysis. The study found that 67.6% of groundfall incidents occurred in supported areas with the remainder (32.4%) in unsupported areas. Some form of rock mass failure appears to cause about 50% of groundfall incidents, although in 39.7% of the overall groundfall incidents or two-thirds of those involving rock mass failure, the exact nature of the rock mass failure could not be determined from the narratives. Human activities factors such as scaling or barring down, drilling or bolting, and setting timbers or cribbing accounted for another 34.5% of the groundfall incidents. Finally, support system failures made up the remaining 15.5%. Results from this taxonomic analysis may suggest focus areas toward which preventive measures and future research activities could concentrate.
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