According to the Wyoming Star-Tribune, Governor Matt Mead is expanding the role of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration in Wyoming as part of a followup to a memorandum sent by now-former Wyoming Occupational Epidemiologist Timothy Ryan. The expansion will add three new positions, and request approval for hiring five more. Seven of the proposed eight new positions will be used for consultant inspectors that will conduct “courtesy inspections” at the request of a company to visit a workplace and flag safety violations. The company will not be fined for violations found during this visit, and can thus use the visit to improve safety rule compliance and potentially avoid OSHA fines. The eighth position will be filled by a compliance inspector who will be tasked with inspecting work sites and levying fines.
There are currently over 23,000 employers in the state of Wyoming, including many companies in the mining, oil, and gas industries, and currently only six state inspectors responsible for consultations and OSHA inspections; according to Ryan’s memo, less than 2 percent of Wyoming workplaces are inspected each year by OSHA, and the state’s worker death rate was 3.5 times higher than the national average in 2010. We expect that the opportunity for self-improvement on the part of the oil and gas industry should have a major impact on reducing worker death rates in 2012, particularly in the area of fall protection where accidents in the oil and gas industry could easily prove fatal.