Federal regulators are increasing the focus on safety at the country’s metal and non-metal mines, where 18 miners have been killed since October, including one Utahn.
"This is an unacceptable trend for all of us in the mining industry," said Joe Main, head of the federal Mine Safety and Health Administration, at a meeting Monday with mine industry stakeholders.
"The recent news on the rise in mining fatalities is disturbing," he added. "We plan to engage all of our tools: enforcement, education and training, and technical support, to respond to this trend."
Utah became part of the discussion on Feb. 1, when 56-year-old Mark Rowley of Cedar City, was caught in a conveyor belt at the Comstock/Mountain Lion iron ore mine in Iron County. A contract worker, he was cleaning the conveyor’s frame when he became entangled in the moving belt. Rowley was pronounced dead at the scene.
MSHA’s investigation of the fatal accident is continuing.
Speaking in general, Main said "basic health and safety protections were not always in place. MSHA will provide operators with specific information on the causes and particular issues surrounding each death … to prevent these types of fatalities in the future."
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