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Staying Safe

Film to showcase lessons from disaster

mine workers walk in the snow

Photograph by Associated Press

In December 1984, 27 miners died when fire engulfed the Wilberg Mine in Emery County, Utah. According to the U.S. Mine Rescue Association, it took a year to recover all the bodies.

UT Arlington has received a $1.3 million grant from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health to produce an oral history documentary based on the tragedy. The grant also will fund accompanying multimedia components and leadership skills training among first-line supervisors over the next three years.

The project is a partnership among NIOSH, Safety Solutions International, the UT Arlington Division for Enterprise Development, and the Department of Art and Art History.

“We’re honored to know that in telling the story of the Wilberg Mine disaster through film, we’ll be creating a lasting resource that will save lives by raising awareness of hazards that still exist today,” says Lisa London, assistant vice president for the Division for Enterprise Development and principal investigator on the grant.

Film Lecturer Mark Clive will lead production of the documentary following a site visit to Utah this spring. While there, he and his team will interview workers and first responders who experienced and investigated the disaster.

“That fire had a huge impact on the community and others around it,” Clive says. “Our documentary will be compelling and explain what was long considered one of the worst coal mining disasters in U.S. history.”