Safety Practices and Equipment for Roof Bolters
District 3 has targeted the roof bolter occupation for special emphasis concerning reducing accidents. Many accidents are occurring due to the drilling process. Most drill heads are equipped with a deep chuck in order to encourage hands off drilling. Unfortunately, when mine roof is not uniform, human nature takes over and the drill operator places his/her hand on the drill steel during initial installation. This type of accident can be prevented. The root cause of these accidents may be identified as:
- * Placing the hands on the drill steel during initial installation.
- * The drill steel is breaking due to applying full pressure when starting the hole. The wall of the drill steel is very thin due to the critical diameter of the drill hole when using resin bolts. The increased pressure on the thin walled drill steel results in the drill steel breaking and striking the worker.
- * Full pressure is also being applied when roof conditions are not uniform in order to prevent the drill steel from "walking". This causes the drill hole to start off center resulting in the second drill steel getting hung up.
- * Failure to sound the roof prior to installing the roof bolt or improper scaling of the roof also causes accidents when increased pressure is used when starting a drill hole. The drill steel 'punches' the mine roof and loose rock strikes the drill operator on the hand, arm or foot.
Use a starter steel ranging from 8 to 12 inches to start the first drill hole. Three significant benefits result from using starter steels: First, it will never be necessary to place hands on the drill steel. Second, it ensures that the operator will always start a straight drill hole since the shorter steel will not bend, and last, the second drill steel will self-center in the starter hole ensuring that the drill steels do not get hung up. Using starter steels saves time and prevents accidents.
Many accidents are occurring trying to dislodge the drill steel or are occurring when the worker strikes his/her hand with the wrench while attempting to unplug the drill steel. Also, the immediate roof is not loosened while trying to recover the dislodged drill steel. As the worker focuses on getting the drill steel free, the loose roof strikes him/her. Starter steels have eliminated these types of accidents where the starter steel has been reinvented.
A metacarpal glove policy for roof bolters is also a viable way to reduce accidents for the roof bolter occupation. One operator has purchased arm guards in addition to the metacarpal gloves and integrated the use of starter steels. The result has been the elimination of the root causes and a reduction to zero accidents.