failures are reduced by 50% within 8 years, (2) injuries by ground and roof support system failures are reduced by 25% within 5 years and by 50% within 8 years, and (3) unplanned roof falls are reduced by 20% within 5 years and by 40% within 8 years” (NIOSH, 2005a). Table 13-1 summarizes the mining program’s intermediate goals and their performance measures in this research area and provides committee comments regarding their appropriateness.

In the opinion of the committee, Mining Program research in this area is innovative in both establishing intermediate goals and formulating research methodologies. Although some of the issues in Table 3-4 are not currently being addressed by the Mining Program, the intermediate goals and current Mining Program research projects all closely relate to issues the committee assessed as most relevant (see Chapter 3). Improvement is needed in broadening the intermediate goal statements. In some cases, the intermediate goal is too restrictive. Very specific performance measures facilitate assessment, but broadening the intermediate goals would clarify the relevance of complementary efforts.

The intermediate goals established for ground failure prevention research are forward looking and focused appropriately on emerging safety issues.


Table 13-2 summarizes MSHA fatality statistics as a measure of relative frequency of accident types for coal and metal or nonmetal mining. The data indicate ground control conditions contribute significantly to fatalities in coal mining and, to a lesser extent, in metal and nonmetal mining. Ground failure fatalities range from 11 to 52 percent of the total number of coal mining fatalities per year, with an average of about 29 percent between 1997 and 2005. The number of similar fatalities for the same period in the metal and nonmetal sectors ranged from 0 to 13 percent per year. The data support the concern that ground failures represent a significant cause of injuries and fatalities and can be a burdensome mine operating cost.

The committee concludes that Mining Program personnel are working with metal-nonmetal and coal mine personnel to identify areas of greatest concern. Current and planned research deals with issues raised by stakeholders particularly in the areas of monitoring highwalls and slopes in surface mines, avoiding inundations when mining is close to water impounding structures and abandoned mines, surface treatments to improve long-term stability of underground openings, monitoring roof conditions in underground stone mines, and reducing damage caused by conventional blasting, to mention only a few examples. The program needs to, however, prepare itself for attrition. Because many seasoned Mining Program

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