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Workers' Memorial Day Remembers Those Killed on the Job

Wyomingites killed or injured at work are being honored today in the Capitol Rotunda for Workers' Memorial Day. Credit: Equality State Policy Center.
Wyomingites killed or injured at work are being honored today in the Capitol Rotunda for Workers' Memorial Day. Credit: Equality State Policy Center.
April 28, 2015

CHEYENNE, Wyo. - Wyoming workers who have been killed or injured on the job are being honored at a ceremony in the Capitol Rotunda this Tuesday morning.

Wyoming is ranked 49th for its high rate of deaths per 100,000 workers, and has consistently ranked among the worst in the country for several years.

Brianna Jones, executive director of the Equality State Policy Center, says it's time to put some teeth into workplace safety laws. She cites more than $100,000 in unpaid workplace safety violation fines, and more than $3 million in delinquent workers' compensation payments as examples of the problem.

"That doesn't show a very good culture of safety if the companies aren't actually held to paying into these systems," she says, "and putting their money where their mouth is when it comes to safety."

The national ranking is based on deaths in 2012, the latest year of statistics, when 35 Wyomingites died on the job. Only North Dakota is worse in the country for its fatality rate.

While Jones expects updated numbers for Wyoming later this year, she says investigations take time, which is why calculations aren't updated more quickly.

The Legislature has approved more safety training in recent years, but Jones says more has to be done to save lives.

"It's so important that we continue to build a culture of safety," she says. "Twelve people every day in our country don't come home from work. That's just egregious."

The Equality State Policy Center, Spence Association for Employee Rights, Wyoming Trial Lawyers Association and the Wyoming State AFL-CIO are among the organizations sponsoring the event.

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