New epidemiologist sees seatbelt enforcement as potential means to curbing workplace fatalities

May 31, 2012

Wyoming’s new state epidemiologist, Mack Sewell, says he plans to look at seatbelt enforcement as a means to improve workplace safety.

In 2010, the state had the second highest rate of workplace deaths in the nation.  In fact, Wyoming traditionally ranks near the top in this category. Sewell will be specifically asked to study workplace injuries and deaths, and then work with lawmakers to try to address the problem. 

He says there’s a lot he still needs to learn about Wyoming’s situation, but he says seatbelts are an easy place to start.

“I would put that in the category of what I would call low-hanging fruit,” Sewell said. “Half of the fatalities were transportation-related, so I’m sure many of those were on the highway.”

Law enforcement in the state cannot pull people over and ticket them for not wearing seatbelts.  The legislature has consistently opposed passing a tougher law.

Wyoming’s last state epidemiologist quit after putting out a report tracking workplace deaths. That report concluded that Wyoming lacked a “culture of safety.”

Sewell says he has a lot to learn before he can come up with a concrete plan of how to improve the culture of safety in Wyoming.