Home / News / Bakken News / North Dakota: Death Trap?
Getty Images via NewsCred

North Dakota: Death Trap?

For the third year in a row, people died on the job in North Dakota than any other state in 2015, The Guardian reports. According to an annual report from union federation AFL-CIO, 14.9 fatalities occurred per 100,000 workers—four times the national average and double the amount of work-related deaths in 2007.

The death toll is especially concentrated in the energy industry and construction, the report said:

The fatality rate in the mining and oil and gas extraction sector in North Dakota was an alarming 84.7 per 100,000, nearly seven times the national fatality rate of 12.4 per 100.000 in this industry; and the construction sector fatality rate in North Dakota was 44.1 per 100,000, more than four times the national fatality rate of 9.7 per 100,000.

Other states topping the list of deadliest workforces include Wyoming at 9.5 deaths per 100,000, West Virginia with 8.6 deaths per 100,000, Alaska with 7.9 deaths per 100,000 and New Mexico at 6.7 per 100,000.

These numbers concern AFL-CIO president Richard Trumka:

American’s workers shouldn’t have to choose between earning a livelihood and risking their lives, yet every day too many end up on the wrong end of that choice. Corporations are prospering while working people suffer because of corporate negligence and insufficient government oversight. We must go beyond mourning those we’ve lost, and take bold, decisive action to ensure that a day’s work brings opportunity, not the risk of death or injury.

Related: The safety profession from the inside.


  1. Oil production, high risk. Construction, high risk. Farming and ranching, high risk. Of course it is going to go up with the increase in the first two. The problem is the left will blow it out of proportion and claim they can make it better if the unions were in charge.

  2. Not only high risk jobs. But you have stupid drivers on the roads who are not used to icy conditions!

  3. You’re missing the point, Bob Stover, they compared the same industries (ergo same risks) death rates in different states.

  4. Bob Stover: did you bother reading the article. ND’s rate in oil production is nearly 7 times the national average and over 4x the national rate in construction. That’s based on a proportional deaths per 100k workers so an increase in workers doesn’t explain the increase in the proportion. Draw your own conclusion as to the factors influencing it.

  5. Bob Stover, you even read the article ? They compared it against o&g incident rates of other states and I seen no Union propaganda nonsense there.

    Have always been warned by guys who have worked in Williston that things can get pretty lax when it comes to safety.

    One gets the impression that lots of people out there, simply don’t care when it comes to following established safety procedures.

    • Depends on the company, If you have a bad safety record the oil companies won’t let you work for them. Most of the time something bad happens ,someone didn’t follow the rules.I worked on locations for some of the strictest companies out there and most have zero tolerance for people that dont care about safety,they will ban you from thier facilities. alot of the deaths are traffic related, most all the close calls I had up there were while driving , people passing multiple trucks ,on curves,etc. Fatigue is a factor too.

  6. Question for guys who had worked in Williston.

    What is the problem out there ? Too many cowboys ? Training ?…

  7. Yep, it’s dangerous out there. The traffic accidents are out of hand too and it’s always seems to be a fatality.

  8. Desk jobs are safer for those who aren’t willing to accept the risk.

  9. Part of the issue is how busy it got and how many new oil and gas workers were needed, as well safety standards are probably not as high as they should be.

  10. And what does the AFL-CIO sell– if all jobs were union it would be better- and what does AFL-CIO collect- union dues–
    Boom conditions, inexperienced hand slow safety training-

  11. Plenty of unskilled drivers in ND & throw in winter driving conditions & there you go

  12. That oils been there billions of years, it needs to get out now at all costs. Or 5000 because some silly billies don’t believe in science.

  13. Oilfield work is high risk, everyone can’t work in the industry. Some people just shouldn’t try it. It’s not unsafe until you make it unsafe.

  14. I think it’s a combination of things that are the reason for such high death percentages in ND region.
    Not only are these a high risk type job, they are around the clock jobs, 365 a yr, in a place where the weather is not on your side, very hazardous!
    extreme in everything I just mentioned.

  15. Lots of inexperienced guys doing an inherently dangerous job.

  16. When you have that size of increase in rigs with green hats you are gonna see a rise in accidents and deathsbecausether are more opportunities! It’s calledRATIO!!! Therefore also gonna be companies that run hard and fast and have a greater chance of injury or death!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *