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Tue August 18, 2009
Big split over possible impact of worker safety bill
By Renny MacKay
Cheyenne, WY – State lawmakers heard today/Tuesday about a proposal that aims to protect workers on the job. Wyoming Public Radio's Renny MacKay reports that whether the bill will lead to improved worker safety.... depends on your point of view.
The legislature's joint judiciary committee has heard from lobbyists on all sides about a proposal to establish more liability on worksites. The bill says companies can be held responsible for injuries or deaths on their projects, even if the injured worker is employed by a contractor, not by the property owner. For example, an oil company could be held responsible for a roughneck's injuries, even if the roughneck worked for a drilling company, not for the oil company. Many industry representatives told the committee they already take safety very seriously and so this only would lead to unnecessary lawsuits. Kellee Cole works in construction and was hurt on the job. He says he wants companies to be more responsible.
"If your company is really this safe and your company is really as good as everyone is saying, especially in oil and gas, then why are they so afraid of this bill?"
Other supporters of the bill say right now it is very difficult to get a judge to hear a case involving an employee or subcontractor. They say the bill would increase the likelihood of getting a case to trial.
For Wyoming Public Radio I'm Renny MacKay.