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35 WYO Workers Who Died on the Job Remembered Today

GRAPHIC: Today is Workers Memorial Day, to remember those who lost their lives on the job. In Wyoming, 35 people died at work in 2012. Graphic courtesy of National Council for Occupational Safety and Health.
GRAPHIC: Today is Workers Memorial Day, to remember those who lost their lives on the job. In Wyoming, 35 people died at work in 2012. Graphic courtesy of National Council for Occupational Safety and Health.
April 28, 2014

CHEYENNE, Wyo. - The list is 35 names long this year. During Workers Memorial Day tributes in Cheyenne today, the names will be read aloud to honor those who lost their lives on the job. Also to be recognized are Wyomingites dealing with serious on-the-job injuries and illnesses related to work-related exposure to toxins.

Marcia Shanor, Equality State Policy Center board chair and one of the event speakers, said the number of Wyoming fatalities is at a five-year high.

"Workers Memorial Day is a day that's set aside to remember those people, to remind us of our loss and also that there's still a lot of work that we need to be doing," Shanor said.

Shanor noted that the Legislature added staff at OSHA to expand courtesy inspection programs, but she said it's time for the state to be more aggressive in enforcing safety regulations. The number of deaths is from 2012 - the latest numbers available from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. A state report last fall documented 31 deaths in 2012. The State Epidemiologist explained the discrepancy is likely because of deaths of non-Wyoming residents working in the state.

A report released by the National Council for Occupational Safety and Health makes the case that almost every death and illness could be prevented. Council deputy director Jessica Martinez said there are more than 50,000 fatalities, when long-term occupational illnesses are included.

"In workplaces across this country, workers continue to be exposed to well-known hazards that are poorly regulated and inadequately controlled - hazards like silica and explosion hazards, like combustible dust," Martinez warned.

Safety systems, equipment, training and enforcement all could save lives, she noted.

The Cheyenne memorial program begins at 10 a.m. in the Capitol Rotunda.

The report, "Preventable Deaths," is available at www.coshnetwork.org.

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