CHEYENNE, Wyo. (AP) - Wyoming and Montana had the worst records in the nation for workplace safety in 2005, according to the AFL-CIO.
The union's annual ''Death on the Job'' report, released Wednesday, said Wyoming has the highest rate of job fatalities, with 16.8 deaths per 100,000 workers, and Montana has the second-highest, with 10.3 fatalities per 100,000 workers. In total, Wyoming had 46 worker deaths, and Montana had 50 worker deaths in 2005, the study said.
The study is based on data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Bruce Hinchey, president of the Petroleum Association of Wyoming, said he was not surprised at Wyoming's numbers.
''You have to consider that most of the jobs that we're talking about are jobs in mining and the oil and gas sector in which there are a lot of heavy equipment and different things associated with it,'' Hinchey said. ''Other states with more manufacturing and tech jobs don't have that kind of risk.''
J.D. Danni, OSHA program manager for Wyoming's Department of Employment, said the study's numbers are skewed against rural states where there is a lot of work-related travel.
''Twenty-five of those (46 Wyoming deaths) were transportation-related, and OSHA does not have jurisdiction on over-the-road and highway fatalities in the state,'' Danni said. ''Any road accident, whether the driver of an 18-wheeler falls asleep and rolls his vehicle, or a person not from Wyoming is traveling through the state on business and dies, it counts as the death occurring in Wyoming.''
However, Montana Department of Labor spokeswoman Michelle Robinson said she was aware that Montana had a high frequency of workplace injuries and deaths.
Kim Floyd, AFL-CIO executive secretary for Wyoming, and Jim McGarvey, AFL-CIO executive secretary for Montana, both said there are not enough OSHA inspectors in their states to monitor workplace safety.
McGarvey also said Montana needed ''more unions'' to solve its workplace safety problems.
''In a union shop, safety is as highly regarded as salary,'' McGarvey said. ''Unions have training programs for jobs and worker safety committees in collective bargaining agreements. People that are in business and want to stay in business recognize the training and craftsmanship that unions provide.''
Floyd said lax laws and light fines for safety violations contributed to Wyoming's poor performance in the report.
''In some instances fines are only $1,000 or $2,000 to a company for a fatality,'' Floyd said. ''That's just a drop in the bucket in reality to these big corporations. It's cheaper to kill people than it is to put on safety programs.”