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A 28-year-old miner from Moab died on May 26th in the Pandora Complex uranium mine when he was hit in the back by a boulder that was 15 wide, 11 feet long and anywhere from 4 to 30 inches thick. A federal investigation has now determined that lax company safety regulations are to blame for the death.

The boulder that killed the miner was dislodged by him as he was using a crowbar to remove rock that was loosened by explosives. The process of dislodging the loosened rock, known as scaling, should be the subject of written procedures and policies that require those with experience with the process to inspect the area before scaling begins, and to require that scaling be done from a safe vantage point. A recent Mine Safety and Health Administration report determined that Reliance Resources, the operator of the mine owned by Denison Mines (USA ) Corporation, lacked sufficient procedures and policies on the issue of scaling.

Since receiving citations for its infractions, Reliance has amended its policies to clarify inspection and scaling method policies, and has provided supplemental training on inspection and proper scaling procedures. Meanwhile, surprise inspections at four other Utah mines have revealed improvements in the form of fewer citations than other mines around the nation. It appears that increased oversight of mines is resulting in improved safety conditions and with luck, that will continue.

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