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Workers Memorial Day: 23 Remembered in Wyoming

PHOTO: 23 workers who died on the job last year are being honored today for Wyoming Workers Memorial Day. Photo credit: Deborah C. Smith
PHOTO: 23 workers who died on the job last year are being honored today for Wyoming Workers Memorial Day. Photo credit: Deborah C. Smith
April 29, 2013

CASPER, Wyo. - Twenty-three men and women are being honored today in Casper on Wyoming Workers Memorial Day. That's how many lives were lost on the job last year. Wyoming has been noted by the National Council for Occupational Safety and Health for its high worker-fatality rate over most of the last decade.

Marcia Shanor, executive director, Wyoming Trial Lawyers Association, said progress has been slow in improving workplace safety.

"Every piece of legislation, all of the training, reminders like Workers Memorial Day, are just small pieces of a bigger program that we need to keep focusing on," she said.

Wyoming's top industries are notably dangerous, with fatalities listed in oil and gas drilling, mining and utilities by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). The agency placed Wyoming's worker fatality rate at 11.6 per 100,000 full-time workers in 2011. North Dakota, a state experiencing an oil boom, had the nation's top fatality rate of 12.4. The national rate was 3.5.

Shanor said that while those who died last year, and in previous years, are being saluted today, many more also deserve thoughts and prayers.

"Many people were burned, had amputations or experienced very serious injuries - and these are increasing in Wyoming," she warned. "That's something we often don't talk about."

Family members of those killed on the job, government and union leaders, and clergy will speak at the ceremony. It is scheduled to begin at 8 a.m. at the Casper Ramada Plaza Riverside (Willow Room), 300 F St.

Bureau of Labor Statistics worker fatality data is available at www.bls.gov.

Deborah Courson Smith/Deb Courson Smith, Public News Service - WY