State programs

Wyoming epidemiologist: Drop in injury rates may take time

Cheyenne, WY – Quick declines in Wyoming’s fatal and nonfatal injury rates are not likely to occur, despite several initiatives focusing on workplace safety, according to a new report from C. Mack Sewell, the state’s occupational epidemiologist.

Released Nov. 13, the report details the 31 workplace deaths that occurred in Wyoming in 2012, as well as workers’ compensation data for nonfatal injuries.

The state’s high proportion of workers employed in high-risk occupations – such as mining and oil and gas extraction, construction, and agriculture – likely contributes to Wyoming’s high workplace injury rates, the report stated. The report listed several initiatives implemented in the state to address safety problems, including creating multiple industry groups, hiring new safety consultants and establishing a safety fund for employers.

The full-time state occupational epidemiologist position was established in May 2012 by Gov. Matt Mead (R) following a 2011 report that concluded Wyoming lacked a safety culture, and safety “occurs as an afterthought.”