workplace deaths

Associated Press

For the first time, Wyoming employers could face stiff fines if their workers die on the job.   

The state does not currently distinguish workplace fatalities from other kinds of safety violation, but under a bill endorsed by the Joint Health, Labor, and Social Services Committee large employers could be fined up to $250-thousand dollars and those who employ fewer than 250 employees could face fines up to 50-thousand dollars.

Senator Charles Scott says Wyoming’s workplace safety record is among the worst in the country and it’s time to send a message.

A miner was killed at Peabody Energy's North Antelope Rochelle coal mine in the Powder River Basin over the weekend, according to the Mine Safety and Health Administration. The Gillette News Record reports that Darwin Lee Reimer, 51, was driving a haul truck when it went over a highwall. 

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.

Kimon Berlin via Flickr Creative Commons

A contractor died at Peabody Coal's North Antelope Rochelle Mine in the Powder River Basin early Wednesday morning.

The contractor, whose name hasn't been released, died inside a hydraulic scoria crusher around 6 a.m., according to Amy Louviere, a spokeswoman for the Mine Safety and Health Administration.

“The crusher apparently started up and it ultimately crushed the miner,” Loviere said. “That victim was airlifted to a nearby medical facility and he is deceased.”

Louviere says local MSHA officials are on the scene and will be conducting a thorough investigation.

AFL-CIO

The AFL-CIO, a coalition group of labor unions, has released a report blasting industry for failing to make workplaces safer, especially in oil and gas.  Wyoming has ranked as one of the five most deadly states to work in for the last ten years.  In 2012, only North Dakota had more workplace fatalities.  Kim Floyd, Executive Secretary for the Wyoming chapter of the AFL-CIO says it has a lot to do with the focus of both states’ economies.

There were 35 workplace fatalities in the state last year, according to a report released by the Wyoming Department of Workforce Services. That’s up from 32 in 2011.

 The deadliest occupations were in the “trade, transport and utilities” category, with 12 fatalities, followed by jobs in the “natural resources and mining” category, which had 10 deaths.

 Almost half of all work place fatalities were the result of what the report called “transportation incidents.” 

Authorities say a man has died from injuries he suffered when he fell into a fan while conducting tests
of a ventilation system at a state warehouse in Cheyenne.

The Laramie County Coroner's Office says 57-year-old Steven John
Mullen of Laramie died of multiple injuries when he fell into the
fan at the State of Wyoming Liquor Warehouse on Wednesday.

Wyoming has hired a new epidemiologist tasked with trying to document, track and help reduce workplace injuries and deaths. Doctor Mack Sewell  is from the New Mexico Department of Health. 

Wyoming Workforce Services Director Joan Evans says that Sewell will hopefully carry forward work that identified a number things that could be improved to reduce workplace deaths in the state.  Evans adds that since he will be working for the agency,it should enhance his ability to get data.                         

Wyoming continues to have one of the worst rates of death on the job.
 New figures from the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics show
that Wyoming had the second-highest rate of deadly workplace
accidents of any state in 2010.
     Only West Virginia had a higher rate. Contributing to West
Virginia's rate in 2010 was a coal mine accident that killed 29
workers and was the nation's deadliest mine accident in 40 years.
     Wyoming's high workplace death rate reflects an energy industry

     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.