Cave-ins are a grave risk in the mining industry. Perhaps the most well-known case is the Chilean miners. In 2010 the story captures international attention as a high-profile rescue effort was launched in a bid to free the 33 miners who had been trapped underground. It took 69 days to free them from their rocky prison.
At its core mining is essentially the process of moving rocks and dirt from their natural habitat. This, of course, creates massive empty spaces within rocks and the ground. So, it stands to reason that cave-ins and rock falls are a great concern within the mining industry.
Thankfully, modern techniques have reduced the number of fatalities which are the result of cave-ins, with bracing ceilings and walls being the most efficient course of action. However, almost half of the fatalities in the mining industry are the result of ground falls. Even in situations where a collapse isn’t immediately fatal, these incidents can lead to miners becoming trapped underground (as with the Chilean miners). By ensuring the mine has proper support in place to continue working the industry can protect workers and prevent many of the cave-ins that are typical of the practice. This means in addition to bracing the ceiling and walls that the available ground support systems are also put into use.
Of course, the use of explosives also increases the risk of cave-ins and rock falls, which is why risk assessments must be carried out before trained individuals embark on carrying out controlled explosions.