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High Rates Of Occupational Fatalities Continue In Wyoming

Wyoming Department of Workforce Services

The Wyoming Department of Workforce Services has released a report analyzing occupational fatalities in the state between 2012 and 2016. The report breaks down the numbers into industry and cause, while showing broader patterns as well.

The Transportation and Warehouse industry accounts for the largest proportion of Wyoming’s workforce fatalities at 25 percent. That’s followed by agriculture, forestry, hunting and fishing (18 percent) then the oil & gas industry (17 percent). Motor vehicle incidents account for nearly half of all fatalities.


Meredith Towle, state occupational epidemiologist for the Department of Workforce Services, said the state report can help legislators or industry groups make policy changes. Unlike federal data, she said this analysis gives a better view of what is inside a number: for example, what kinds of transportation-related fatalities occur. 

“Now we know that it means a mixture of motor vehicle crashes on the road, many of which are unbelted, or folks that are not using their seatbelt properly.” Towle said, "and the other part of the picture is that workers are being killed by moving vehicles on a job site or using an off-road vehicle on a job site. And that’s information to the level of detail that we just haven’t had in the past.”

She added the report raises new questions that industry groups and policy makers can explore, like if a worker was wearing a helmet or following safety protocols at the time of an incident.

“But those are questions that we can start to ask ourselves.” Towle said, "Is this information that we need to have and how can we obtain it? And how can we talk to industry groups, employers, and everyone whose using an ATV out in the work setting and try to elevate the level of awareness of what the risks are and then try to think of what are some prevention opportunities?”

This is the second multi-year report released by the department. The federal report on workplace-related fatalities will be released in December.

Before Wyoming, Cooper McKim has reported for NPR stations in Connecticut, Massachusetts, and South Carolina. He's reported breaking news segments and features for several national NPR news programs. Cooper is the host of the limited podcast series Carbon Valley. Cooper studied Environmental Policy and Music. He's an avid jazz piano player, backpacker, and podcast listener.
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