Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Type



Statler College of Engineering and Mineral Resources


Mining Engineering

Committee Chair

Christopher Bise.


Central Appalachian coal reserves are a valuable natural resource in high demand, both domestically and internationally. The need for this resource necessitates recovery a high percentage of the coal reserves. The mining technique that is most often utilized to extract Central Appalachian coal at high recovery rates involves the development of entries and cross-cuts within the coal seam and the subsequent removal of the coal pillars that remain. The practice of extracting coal pillars is commonly referred to as pillaring or retreat mining.;The problem associated with pillar extraction is the additional safety risk posed to miners during pillar extraction. This thesis, will investigate the application of pillaring in Central Appalachia, and based on this investigation, develop a risk management-based strategy that targets personnel performance-based risk, in order to improve the ability of safety trainers to tailor training programs to the needs of pillaring sections.;Several conclusions have been determined in this thesis. Although pillaring has its roots in antiquated mining methods, current technology and mining practices have made this form of mining highly modernized. This modernization of the pillaring process has made great strides towards improving safety. However, current fatality trends suggest that work still needs to be done to control the residual risk that is not controlled by modern machinery and mining practices. Fatalities and accidents almost always have a personnel performance related component. These performances that have been identified in previous fatal accidents are still commonly observed in Central Appalachia. The risk management based strategy developed in this thesis can successfully identify and quantify risk associated with personnel performance. This ability to quantitatively assess performance based risk can have a significant impact on the ability of safety managers to train the workforce, and therefore, should have a positive impact on pillaring safety in Central Appalachia.