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Report Ranks Wyoming ‘Most Dangerous Place to Work’

April 28, 2010

CHEYENNE, Wyo. - Thirty-three people died and about 9,000 were injured in Wyoming in one year - and it all happened on the job. As the nation marks Workers Memorial Day today (Wednesday), a new report from the AFL-CIO shows Wyoming has the highest on-the-job death rate in the country.

The state has been at or near the top of the list for several years, and State Representative Mary Throne (D-Cheyenne) says the problem is being taken seriously. She recently sponsored legislation to increase fines for safety violations.

"Every worker in Wyoming, even on an oil rig, has the right to expect a safe workplace."

Her bill did not win approval. However, the state is in the process of hiring an epidemiologist to help study workplace fatalities and injuries, and the oil and gas industry is forming a new safety alliance with the Wyoming Occupational Safety and Health Administration.

In the meantime, Throne says she's committed to working on a new proposal to restructure fines for workplace safety violations.

"In this world, you have to have carrots and sticks. We have to, of course, continue to provide compliance assistance to small business, but when the fines haven't been adjusted since 1984, I think it sends the wrong message."

Nationwide, more than 5,000 employees died while at work, according to the report. The state-by-state tally of deaths and injuries for 2008, the most recent year for which figures are available, is online at www.aflcio.org.

The numbers don't reflect the recent mine accident in West Virginia, but that state likely will take the top spot as "most dangerous" next year because of those deaths.

Deb Courson, Public News Service - WY