The American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations recently released information revealing North Dakota as essentially the most dangerous state to work in, considering its latest work-related death rates. Up 10 deaths from the average in 2007, there was an average of 17.7 deaths per 100,000 workers in North Dakota in the year 2012. This dramatic increase as drawn the attention of many labor unions, including the AFL-CIO, and authorities across the nation. The statement released said that the 2012 rate for North Dakota was one of the highest in nationwide for more than 20 years.
Although this number is alarmingly high, it is not the first time North Dakota has had the highest work-related death rate. In fact, the average in the state in 2011 was 12.4 deaths per 100,000 employees compared to the national average that year, which was 3.5 deaths per 100,000. North Dakota is not the only state that saw an increase in the worker deaths in the year 2012. Other states with a similar, but not quite as significant, trend included Wyoming, Alaska, West Virginia and South Dakota.
Does the death rate have anything to do with the ND oil boom?
The last few years have brought a great deal of economic prosperity for the state of North Dakota, largely attributed to the oil industry boom it has experience over the same period of time. This increase in industry is suspiciously in synch with the increase in worker deaths. The director at the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), while maintaining that the universal concern is for worker safety, admits that more than 50 percent of the cases they investigate in North Dakota involve the oil industry.
Deaths included in these increased rates are connected in some way to the victim's job, either directly or indirectly. From workplace accidents to work-related diseases, attention has been drawn to this undeniable dilemma as workers and labor unions continue to lobby for increased rights and safety measures to protect future potential victims.