Home / General / The Most Dangerous State for Workers

The Most Dangerous State for Workers


North Dakota, thanks to an oil industry that continues to shirk on workplace safety.

According to the AFL-CIO, the most dangerous U.S. state for workers is North Dakota, which the report calls “an exceptionally dangerous and deadly place to work.” Its fatality rate — almost 18 deaths per 100,000 workers — is five times higher than the national average. It’s also double the state’s 2007 rate, when it stood at 7 deaths per 100,000 workers.

North Dakota’s spike in workplace deaths illustrates the dark side of the state’s booming energy industry, which has brought both high-paying jobs and problems such as rising crime rates and homelessness, thanks to a lack of housing. The rising rate of workplace deaths suffered in the oil and gas industry was called “unacceptable” by Secretary of Labor Thomas E. Perez last year.

“A particular focus is needed on the oil and gas industry,” said Peg Seminario, director of safety and health for the AFL-CIO, on a conference call with reporters. “With that industry growing and expanding, we’ve seen an expansion of fatalities not just in North Dakota, but in other states. It needs much more attention by employers, OSHA, and other state and federal agencies.”

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Google+
  • Linkedin
  • Pinterest
  • Mudge

    The other big industry is agriculture, which is not a very safe line of work either.

    • DrDick

      My thought exactly. When your big industries are oil and ag are your major industries, you can pretty much kiss worker safety goodbye.

    • bph

      There is a Think Progress piece that shows the North Dakota oil and gas industry is 6 times(!) more deadly than the national average. So North Dakota is doing something special.

      Oh, well, the unemployment rate is really low in North Dakota, so obvious work place safety should be tossed aside because JOBS.

  • DEKH

    I took a train ride to from Minnesota to Indiana last year. The train was full of ND oil-riggers who had all quit their jobs. The most common reason was that North Dakotans were greedy bastards who squeezed the riggers for everything they were worth. But the #2 complaint was safety. No safety-harnesses, dangling ropes and wires, people asked to fix things under extremely dangerous conditions. They were all travelling to Texas to take jobs that paid less but were supposedly safer.

    • Mike G

      I have a relative who works as a trucker in ND visiting oil sites. He was guffawing about the laid-off UAW guys who come over from Michigan to start new careers as riggers and don’t last long because they expect decent standards for safety and workplace conditions.

      • Linnaeus

        Your relative sounds like a swell guy.

    • nick

      Yeah I worked out in west ND a few years ago when all that started to blow up. Wacky times but was fun and made money. Caught a nasty blow to the head from a metal brace one time, knocked me off my feet and out of whack, lucky to have had the hard hat!

    • You know it’s bad when they’re headed to Texas for it’s workplace safety conditions.

  • Not saying it’s not a dangerous and callous industry. But ND is also heavily agricultural, and agriculture is a very dangerous industry. And after those two industries, they don’t have much else.

    It’s quite possible that when you adjust for lack of diversity, that Texas may be more dangerous than ND but TX has a lot more office and low-risk jobs.

    • DEKH

      Texas has a mature oil industry, so they’ve at least had to deal with complaints, lawsuits, reforms, etc. for decades. They may be a “pro-business” hell-hole, but (at least according to the riggers) they do actually follow some basic safety standards.

      • Derpwater Horizon

        Now, offshore…

      • That all makes sense about the TX oil industry. But I wasn’t really thinking about oil specifically, but Texas’ lax regulation overall. I’ll bet, for instance, a lot of guys die in trench cave-ins on construction sites in Texas.

      • Anonymous

        They may be a “pro-business” hell-hole

        heh…that’s why everyone’s moving to the ‘hell-hole’.

        –Smirking Texan

        • They’re mostly people you want to deport.

        • Boresallofus

          Texas bidnessmen: proudly using people up and throwing them away since forever.

          “It can’t be wrong if there’s money in it for me”

        • DrDick

          Florida has a higher rate of domestic immigration and California is almost as high. Do try to visit reality some time.

        • Mike G

          Plenty of people move to Guangdong Province to work in factories, that doesn’t make it a good place to work or live either.
          Come to think of it, they probably have sumg jerk officials who say stuff like, “If it’s so bad, how come there are so many jobs and so many people coming here?”

          • Lurking Canadian

            Not just jerk officials. Also jerk glibertarian columnists in the US.

  • g-rant

    But hey, it’s the freest state!

    • Philip

      Oh man, that site is something special. On California,

      Travel freedom is low due to a primary seat belt law, motorcycle and bicycle helmet laws, a statewide primary-enforcement cell phone driving ban

      Requiring a seat belt is restricting travel freedom??

      • wjts

        “[Massachusetts] Labor laws are poor, with no right-to-work law, a minimum wage, and excessively strict workers’ compensation coverage requirements.”

        How awful it must be to be a worker in the People’s Socialist Hellhole of Taxachusetts!

      • Gregor Sansa

        Heck. A seat belt is arguably your business (in bizarro libertarian world, where if you want affordable health insurance, you freely contract with the insurance company to install a device in your car so it won’t start until you put on your seatbelt). But cell phones while driving? That is clearly in the realm of “infringing other people’s right to be on the road without getting killed”.

        (I’m not saying I’ve never touched my phone while driving. I’m just saying that if I’d ever gotten a ticket for doing so, I wouldn’t try to turn that into an Affront On Liberty.)

        • Emily

          I don’t know about seat belts, but when Washington state was debating motorcycle helmet laws, it was pointed out that we taxpayers ponied up LOTS of money on trauma care for unhelmeted, uninsured motorcycle riders. So helmet laws are public business and not just personal.

      • Pee Cee

        Requiring a seat belt is restricting travel freedom??

        It restricts your freedom to steer the car with your feet as you fly headfirst through the windshield … for FREEDOM!

      • g-rant

        It’s a treasure trove of libertarian stupidity.

      • The right of your face to travel freely into the windshield at high speed.

    • How horrid! Maryland has rent control!

    • Cheap Wino

      The freedom for moneyed individuals, in graphic form. Nice!

    • Anonymous

      This is satire. It has to be. You can’t convince me otherwise!

  • From time to time the tree of the Free Market must be watered with the blood of employees who have been eviscerated by the Invisible Hand.

    • msj

      Brilliant. I’m going to steal that.

  • Cheap Wino

    So awesome that, under personal freedom, “Gun Control Freedom” is 6.6% of the calculation and “Civil Liberties” is .6% of same. Yay militias!

    • Cheap Wino

      Oops. This was supposed to go under g-rant’s link thread.

  • Pingback: [BLOG] Some Friday links | A Bit More Detail()

It is main inner container footer text