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.
“Number one was North Dakota. Number two was Wyoming and we are the two states that are just booming in oil and gas development,” he says. “We have very dangerous industries here in the state of Wyoming. We realize that. We have to get a better culture of safety here in the state of Wyoming.”
Floyd says to do that OSHA — the Occupational Safety and Health Administration — needs to adopt the same rigor as the mining industry with steeper fines and a lot more inspections at work sites.
In 2012, 35 people died on the job in Wyoming, about half in the oil and gas industry or construction.
Floyd says some strides have been made in the state. Wyoming Workforce Services and OSHA are working with companies to make workplaces safer and Governor Mead recently added 7 new OSHA work-place inspectors. But Floyd says more inspectors are needed.
“If you look at that report right now, it would take 150 years for Wyoming’s inspectors to inspect every employer in the state. And that’s just unacceptable.”