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Oil Field Injuries Lead to Workplace Fatalities

A new report from the AFL-CIO on oil field injuries has revealed some sobering statistics. The report shows that North Dakota has become the most dangerous U.S. state for workers, with a fatality rate of nearly 18 deaths per 100,000 workers in 2012. The report attributes the fatality rate, which is five times the national average, to a combination of the growing oil and gas industry within the state and a pool of inexperienced workers in this dangerous field.

Oil Field Injuries Show Dark Side of Industry

The rising rate of oil field injuries and deaths in North Dakota also reflects a steep increase from previous years. The AFL-CIO report showed that the the state’s death rate was only 7 per 100,000 workers in 2007, an increase of over 250 percent in just five years. While the state’s oil boom has led to an increase in higher-paying jobs, it has also led to more workplace injuries, worker housing shortages and higher crime rates.

Oil Field Injuries: Just Part of the Job?

The AFL-CIO report compared fatality rates among several states, including those where oil field injuries and deaths are prevalent. In Texas, the state with the highest rate of oil production, the fatality rate was only 5 deaths per 100,000 workers in 2012, compared to North Dakota’s 18 per 100,000. Other oil-producing states, such as Louisiana and Oklahoma, also had much lower fatality rates than North Dakota. Industry experts cite inexperienced workers, improper training a lack of infrastructure for the differences.

Experts Want More Focus on Oil Field Injuries

Peg Seminario, director of safety and health for the AFL-CIO, called for an increased focus on oil field injuries and deaths. She called on employers to conduct better safety practices and for government agencies to enforce worker safety regulations.

“With (the oil) industry growing and expanding, we’ve seen an expansion of fatalities not just in North Dakota, but in other states,” Ms. Seminario told reporters. “(The oil industry) needs much more attention by employers, OSHA, and other state and federal agencies.”

Labor Secretary Concerned About Oil Field Injuries

The topic of oil field injuries has led to concerns from federal officials. Secretary of Labor Thomas E. Perez issued a statement after the release of the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ National Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries last August. Secretary Perez stated that the increase in fatal accidents in the oil and gas fields is “unacceptable”. He also called on employers to “take job hazards seriously and live up to their legal and moral obligation to send their workers home safe every single day.”

Source: CBS News

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