Montana and Wyoming remain among the most dangerous states for workers

2013-08-26T11:00:00Z 2013-08-27T08:54:05Z Montana and Wyoming remain among the most dangerous states for workersBy JAN FALSTAD jfalstad@billingsgazette.com The Billings Gazette

Fewer Montana workers died on the job last year, according to the Montana Department of Labor and Industry.

The department’s Research and Analysis Bureau said 34 workers were killed at work last year, 15 fewer than 2011.

“It is also a reminder that no matter how safe we think our workplaces are, whether it’s in the office or on the road, we must remain vigilant and watch out for one another,” said Labor Commissioner Pam Bucy.

However, the two Rocky Mountain states remain dangerous places to work, compared to the other states and the District of Columbia.

For five years in a row through 2011, Montana and Wyoming ranked in the top six states with the highest percentage of workplace deaths.

North Dakota, with its oil boom, ranked in the top six for employee deaths for four out of five years, 2008 through 2011.

The 2012 rankings of the most dangerous states to work in won’t be released until the preliminary numbers are finalized, according to research analyst Peggy Coggeshall in Helena, so 2011 is the most current data available.

Last year, workplace deaths in Wyoming increased from 32 to 35, the highest number in five years. Ten deaths were in natural resources and mining and another 10 in transportation and warehousing.

Montana’s most dangerous jobs were in transportation, where accidents caused 38 percent of the state’s fatalities.

Falls and contact with equipment and objects caused 21 percent of Montana’s deaths. Exposure to harmful substances or environments caused three deaths, or 9 percent. Assaults and violent acts killed two workers, 6 percent of the total.

Eighteen workers or 53 percent who died worked for others and 47 percent were self-employed, which includes farmers and paid or unpaid family workers.

Workplace fatalities hit employees aged 45 to 54 the hardest, where 14 people died, followed by employees 55 to 64 years.

Last year, Montana’s death rate was 11.2 per 100,000 full-time workers.

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