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Work-related deaths on the rise

Thirty-one workers died on the job in Wyoming in 2012, up from 29 the year before. That’s according to a report by Wyoming’s occupational epidemiologist.  Wyoming has one of the worst workplace death rates in the nation. The report attributes that to the fact that a large proportion of Wyoming’s workforce is employed in high risk occupations like oil and gas, ranching, and construction jobs.

Despite the slight increase in deaths, Department of Workforce Services’ director Joan Evans says she’s encouraged by the fact that there were fewer injury claims than before.

“We’re seeing those trend down.  However, the costs are trending up.  And I think there are a couple of reasons for that,” she says.  “One, the high cost of medical care.  But the other is that they may be injuries that are very high cost injuries, things like amputations, burns, requiring hospitalization.”

Evans says $500,000 has been set aside to help employers buy safety equipment and pay for specialized training, which the Department hopes will help reduce death and serious injury rates by this time next year when the next report will be released. 

Melodie Edwards is the host and producer of WPM's award-winning podcast The Modern West. Her Ghost Town(ing) series looks at rural despair and resilience through the lens of her hometown of Walden, Colorado. She has been a radio reporter at WPM since 2013, covering topics from wildlife to Native American issues to agriculture.

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