Document Type

Conference Paper

Publication Date


Publication Details

R. Frith, Why Dead Load Suspension Design for Roadway Roof Support is Fundamentally Flawed within a Pro-active Strata Management System, 11th Underground Coal Operators' Conference, University of Wollongong & the Australasian Institute of Mining and Metallurgy, 2011, 73-82.


Risk-based roadway roof support design is now a critical part of the Australian Coal Industry. Safe and efficient mining demands that roof support be tailored to the prevailing geotechnical conditions and legislation in both NSW and QLD is clear in requiring that formalised roof support design be undertaken. The assumption of dead-load suspension of an otherwise unstable roof has been used in roadway roof support design for many years. However longevity does not necessarily translate into either best or even reasonable practice in the current industry, particularly when pro-active strata management systems are now routinely used and reinforcing support design methods are available. The paper discusses why the assumption of dead-load suspension is fundamentally incorrect in almost all instances when pro-active or reinforcing roof support is being applied and how it can easily result in misleading and potentially under-designed roof support systems under various circumstances. The commonly used design methodology of balancing the installed axial capacity of long tendons with the assumed “weight” of a future roof fall is summarised and several fundamental flaws are identified. The critical area of selecting the design Factor of Safety is also discussed in detail. Accepting that under certain circumstances the roof of a roadway will require to be “suspended”, suggestions for how a robust support system can be developed, designed and applied are given.