According to federal data, there were 265 miners injured in roof and rib falls in 2013, down from 377 in 2012. The agency said that improvements have been made in roof control technology, but such falls are still a leading cause of injuries in underground coal.

In conjunction with this alert, MSHA has launched its yearly PROP effort (Preventive Roof/Rib Outreach Program) to increase awareness among miners and mine operators of the hazards of roof and rib falls. The 2014 campaign, which runs through September, will focus on conditions specific to the summer months.

The agency has developed informational posters, hard hat stickers and lists of best practices, which will be distributed to miners and mine operators during normal inspections. The information also will be used by MSHA inspectors during safety talks with operators and groups of working miners.

“Even though there was a welcome reduction in the overall number of roof control injuries, too many coal miners are still being hurt on the job in these kinds of accidents,” said Joseph Main, assistant secretary of labor for mine safety and health.

MSHA also has developed an accident prevention alert suitable for posting at the mine site; it includes best practices to prevent roof and rib accidents related specifically to retreat mining. That poster is available here.