Gov. Matt Mead is hoping to more than double the number of Occupational Safety and Health Administration inspectors in Wyoming.
Wyoming has one of the highest rates of workplace fatalities in the nation.
In a recent report to the governor, former State Epidemiologist Tim Ryan recommended fixing the problem, in part, by encouraging more OSHA courtesy inspections. That’s where a company invites OSHA to check out their operations and help them comply with safety regulations.
But Ryan says there aren’t enough OSHA employees.
“Because currently if an employer calls OSHA, it’s a two to three month wait for a courtesy inspection. In my opinion, it should be, ‘We’ll be there in the next week or 10 days or two weeks."
Mead hopes to create up to eight new OSHA positions. Seven would be for voluntary safety consultations, while one would be a compliance inspector.
Worker rights advocates have been pushing for more OSHA employees for some time, but they say that’s just part of the solution. They also want stiffer penalties for companies that don’t comply with regulations, and they want workers to be able to sue oil and gas companies over workplace injuries and deaths, which currently isn’t possible in Wyoming.