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Safety and the Bakken

Lydia Gilbertson | Shale Plays Media

Working on an oil rig is considered one of the most dangerous jobs in the country. The oil and gas industry is taking measures to address the hazardous nature of their field. Journalist Maxine Herr recently did an in-depth report for the Bismarck Tribune that explores the role that safety plays within the industry for not only their workers but pipeline infrastructure and oil train issues as well.

Harold Hamm’s speech at the Williston Basin Petroleum Conference addressed transportation safety concerns for crude-by-rail. He stated that Bakken crude is no different from any other type of crude oil.  He also ensured the conference that Continental Resources is doing everything that they can to allow the safest transport possible of their product. This is a controversial topic in the media as many sources claim that Bakken crude is more volatile than other crude oil types. An article from oil and gas journal that came out around the same time as the announcement at the conference claims the exact opposite of what was presented there.

“There’s a lot that goes into supporting the oil and gas industry,” [Dustin] Austin said. “The way North Dakota was set up previously, none of this was up here. There was not a lot of activity or a need for enforcement. But with the level of hazards it’s now dealing with, the industry hasn’t had the resources it needs.”

North Dakota is ranked the highest in world for workplace deaths. The North Dakota Safety Council is offering many different types of training classes for workers to help to not only lower workplace death statistics but to also make North Dakota a safer place to work. A recent increased presence in the western part of the state by OSHA is also helping to improve working conditions and educate employees.

Read more: The shared role of oilfield safety

Related: OSHA inspections increase after spike in fatalities