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OSHA Fines Sugar Beet Cooperative $71,000

Western Sugar Cooperative

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.

“This tragic loss of life could have been prevented," Evans said. "The employer repeatedly failed to properly implement OSHA safety standards that do require adequate guarding around floor openings.  Our investigation also revealed a variety of similar violations in many areas of the work site regarding inadequate railings and guarding.”

The company’s Torrington facility had been cited in the past for leaving debris and foam around an unguarded area. 

Wyoming has been struggling to bring down the number of workplace deaths in recent years.  A new report by the AFL-CIO this week says the state has the second highest number of work-related deaths in the country, after North Dakota.

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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