Wyoming has been trying to change its workplace safety culture in recent years — particularly in the oil and gas industry, as our Inside Energy team reported earlier this year. But that goal got more difficult this week when the state’s current occupational epidemiologist announced he’s quitting.
The occupational epidemiologist tracks injuries and fatalities and makes recommendations on how to prevent them in the future. But the state has had trouble keeping anyone in the position. The first hire quit after less than two years on the job out of frustration with the slow pace of change. The current epidemiologist, Mack Sewell, is retiring after a similar tenure. He said the state has taken steps in the right direction, but “Our fatality numbers dropped in ‘13, but the numbers that we’re seeing for ‘14 are trending back upward again, so it’s a bit of a concern.” Sewell will be replaced by Meredith Towle, an epidemiologist who currently works for the Colorado Department of Health.