osha

The latest report on workplace death and injuries in Wyoming shows the transportation sector continues to lead in fatalities. Wyoming's overall numbers declined, but that was due to a decrease in traffic fatalities. State Occupational Epidemiologist Mack Sewell  says Wyoming is starting to make progress in reducing workplace deaths and injuries. But in a prepared statement, Sewell says more needs to be done.

Melodie Edwards

Too many jobs, not enough bodies. That’s the dilemma of many Wyoming construction companies these days that can’t keep up with the building demands of the state’s energy boom. An influx of Latino workers are moving to Wyoming to take up the slack. And national figures show that Hispanics lead the nation in fatal injuries. And with Wyoming having one of the worst records for workplace fatalities, the question is: are Latinos putting themselves in the line of fire? 

Despite violations at sister plants, the Wyoming Department of Workforce Service never inspected a sugar beet plant in Lovell where an employee was killed in January. Western Sugar Cooperative's Torrington plant received 15 citations in 2013, including one for improper guard rails -- the same problem that led to the death of 28-year-old Anfesa Galaktionoff.

Denver-based Western Sugar Beet Cooperative has been fined $71,000 for violations that led to the death of an employee  in January at its facility in Lovell.  OSHA and the Wyoming Department of Workforce services allege that because no guard rails had been installed, 28-year-old Anfesa Galaktionoff fell through an opening in the floor into a production pit. 

The company was issued 12 violations for serious and repeat workplace hazards. Wyoming Workforce Services Director Joan Evans said in a statement that the young woman’s death was completely unnecessary.

A Christmas Day fire at a natural gas compressor station south of Riverton sent one worker to the hospital.

The East Alkali Butte station belongs to Texas-based Legacy Reserves. The company’s safety coordinator, Randy Williams, says the injured worker was a contractor. He was flown to a hospital in Salt Lake City for treatment.

Fremont County Fire Protection deputy chief Dan Oakley says by the time the department got on scene, the fire had been mostly extinguished. He says the building was still standing, but that the windows and doors had been blown out.

A few weeks ago, the Sinclair Wyoming Refining Company got a $707,000 fine for safety violations. Wyoming’s Occupational Health and Safety Administration, or OSHA, found that Sinclair had willfully violated various safety regulations and failed to fix hazards that could have resulted in death or serious physical harm.

Sinclair working to fix safety problems, OSHA says

Nov 7, 2013

The head of Wyoming’s Occupation Safety and Health Administration, or OSHA, says the Sinclair Refinery is working to improve its safety record.

Earlier this week, we reported that OSHA would consider shutting down the refinery if another life-threatening incident happens at the plant.

But the agency’s John Ysebaert says he’s hopeful that that won’t be necessary.

OSHA says Sinclair refinery shutdown is on the table

Nov 5, 2013

Wyoming’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration, or OSHA, says they would consider shutting down the Sinclair refinery if another serious problem happens there.

The refinery has had a series of fires, explosions, and toxic gas releases in the past few years, and OSHA recently gave Sinclair the highest fine it’s ever given a Wyoming company.

OSHA’s John Ysebaert says they’ve already discussed the possibility of closing the refinery if there’s another serious accident.

Charles Willgren / Wikipedia

An explosion at the Sinclair Refinery near Rawlins on Friday night resulted in a fire.

The explosion occurred around 10 p.m. on Friday. No one was injured, and by 3 a.m. the fire was under control. The Wyoming Occupational Safety and Health Administration, or OSHA, is investigating the incident. The cause is still unknown.

Two hospitalized after Sinclair refinery fire

Jul 31, 2013

Two people were taken to the hospital after a fire started at the Sinclair Refinery near Rawlins yesterday.

John Ysebaert with Wyoming’s Occupational Health and Safety Administration, or OSHA, says the fire started when workers who were erecting scaffolding tripped a valve. That released so-called “super-heated diesel,” which ignites when it hits the atmosphere.

OSHA is investigating the incident.

Wyoming consistently has one of the highest rates of workplace fatalities in the country. Many of these are in the energy industry, though not all. Last year, the state legislature decided to tackle the problem by hiring more safety consultants for Wyoming’s Occupational Health and Safety Administration, or OSHA. Most agree that the change has been positive, but some say more still needs to be done, in order to reduce workplace injuries and deaths. Wyoming Public Radio’s Willow Belden reports.

Sinclair Oil is being fined $260,000 for safety violations at its refinery near Rawlins. These are on top of violations the company received last year, when repeated explosions and fires injured several plant workers.

The Wyoming Occupational Safety and Health Administration, or OSHA, inspected the refinery after receiving a complaint about a diesel leak. OSHA’s John Ysebaert says they found that the company wasn’t adequately training its workers, and wasn’t properly labeling chemicals, among other violations.

New rules from Wyoming’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration, or OSHA, require workers to wear flame-resistant clothing near wellbore holes, and require emergency shut-down devices on diesel engines used on drill rigs.

OSHA’s John Ysebaert says flame-resistant clothing has made a big difference for worker’s safety during two recent incidents. One was a fire at the Sinclair Oil refinery.

“There were injuries, but it absolutely saved lives and … reduced those injuries,”Ysebaert said.

The Wyoming Occupational Safety and Health Administration has cited Sinclair Oil for 11 serious violations at its refinery near Rawlins. There have been four fires at the Sinclair refinery since May, and seven workers have been injured, some critically. OSHA has completed its investigation for one of the incidents and will likely fine the company more than $60,000 for violations.

Wyoming’s Occupational Health and Safety Administration is investigating a series of fires and explosions at the Sinclair Oil Refinery near Rawlins.

The plant has seen four fires since May, and seven workers have been injured, some critically. The most recent incident was last week.

OSHA Administrator John Ysebaert says investigations are still pending, but they have some preliminary ideas about the problems.

The Wyoming Occupational Safety and Health Administration is proposing a rule that would require workers to wear flame-resistant clothing within 75 feet of an oil and gas well bore.
 
The agency is taking public comments on the proposal and will hold a public hearing on Oct. 5 in Casper.

John Robitaille, of the Petroleum Association of Wyoming, says industry would welcome the rule since many already follow it now.
 
But Robitaille says some companies would rather use the special clothing on an as-needed basis.

Wyoming has hired seven new Occupational Safety and Health Administration safety consultants to improve workplace safety in the state.

Workplace safety has been a real problem in Wyoming. The state ranked among the top two in the nation in workplace fatalities in eight of the last nine years. 

John Ysebaert of Workforce Services will oversee the program. He says that, instead of doling out fines for workplace safety violations, the OSHA consultants willhelp small businesses to develop and comply with safety requirements on a voluntary basis.

The Wyoming Senate has given initial approval to a bill that would provide grant money to small businesses to have OSHA determine whether they have a safe workplace. 

Wyoming has consistently ranked as one of the most dangerous states in the country for workers, and Republican Eli Bebout of Riverton sees this as a way to use a positive approach to improve workplace safety.

A measure intended to increase workplace safety is making its way through the Wyoming House of Representatives.  The bill is intended to encourage companies to contact OSHA to determine if they're doing what they can to ensure workplace safety.  Grants will be provided to help companies implement safety programs and buy necessary equipment.   Cheyenne Democrat Mary Throne had wanted stiffer penalties to ensure compliance, but she is hopeful that this approach will work. “I certainly think we need to provide more resources to employers and to OSHA to help those folks who want to engage in th

     For the last decade, Wyoming has ranked either first or second for workplace deaths and two groups are asking legislators to change things.  The AFL-CIO and the Spence Association for Employee Rights point to a recent report that said that Wyoming has had 622 work related deaths since 1992. Kim Floyd of the AFL-CIO says that is too many and it’s time for state leaders to change their approach and finally do something to improve the workplace culture.