Each operator shall undertake to carry out on a continuing basis a program to improve the roof control system of each coal mine and the means and measures to accomplish such system. The roof and ribs of all active underground roadways, travelways, and working places shall be supported or otherwise controlled adequately to protect persons from falls of the roof or ribs. A roof control plan and revisions thereof suitable to the roof conditions and mining system of each coal mine and approved by the Secretary shall be adopted and set out in printed form within sixty days after the operative date of this subchapter. The plan shall show the type of support and spacing approved by the Secretary. Such plan shall be reviewed periodically, at least every six months by the Secretary, taking into consideration any falls of roof or ribs or inadequacy of support of roof or ribs. No person shall proceed beyond the last permanent support unless adequate temporary support is provided or unless such temporary support is not required under the approved roof control plan and the absence of such support will not pose a hazard to the miners. A copy of the plan shall be furnished the Secretary or his authorized representative and shall be available to the miners and their representatives.
The method of mining followed in any coal mine shall not expose the miner to unusual dangers from roof falls caused by excessive widths of rooms and entries or faulty pillar recovery methods.
The operator, in accordance with the approved plan, shall provide at or near each working face and at such other locations in the coal mine as the Secretary may prescribe an ample supply of suitable materials of proper size with which to secure the roof of all working places in a safe manner. Safety posts, jacks, or other approved devices shall be used to protect the workmen when roof material is being taken down, crossbars are being installed, roof bolt- holes are being drilled, roof bolts are being installed, and in such other circumstances as may be appropriate. Loose roof and overhanging or loose faces and ribs shall be taken down or supported. Except in the case of recovery work, supports knocked out shall be replaced promptly.
When installation of roof bolts is permitted, such roof bolts shall be tested in accordance with the approved roof control plan.
Roof bolts shall not be recovered where complete extractions of pillars are attempted, where adjacent to clay veins, or at the locations of other irregularities, whether natural or otherwise, that induce abnormal hazards. Where roof bolt recovery is permitted, it shall be conducted only in accordance with methods prescribed in the approved roof control plan, and shall be conducted by experienced miners and only where adequate temporary support is provided.
Where miners are exposed to danger from falls of roof, face, and ribs the operator shall examine and test the roof, face, and ribs before any work or machine is started, and as frequently thereafter as may be necessary to insure safety. When dangerous conditions are found, they shall be corrected immediately.