North Dakota second-worst state for workplace deaths
FARGO -- North Dakota once again had one of the highest per-capita rates of on-the-job deaths in 2009, according to a new report. The state's 25 workplace fatalities in 2009 translated into a rate of 7.2 deaths per 100,000 workers, the report by ...
FARGO -- North Dakota once again had one of the highest per-capita rates of on-the-job deaths in 2009, according to a new report.
The state's 25 workplace fatalities in 2009 translated into a rate of 7.2 deaths per 100,000 workers, the report by the AFL-CIO shows.
North Dakota had the second-most deadly per-worker rate in the nation, tying with Louisiana and behind only the 10.8 deaths per 100,000 in Montana. It was more than double the national average of 3.3.
Minnesota fared better in the study, ranking as the 10th-lowest state with 2.2 deaths per 100,000 workers.
It's not a new concern for North Dakota. The labor union issues an annual report on worker safety, and the state consistently has one of the highest rates of fatalities. Dating back to 2004, it has never ranked better than the ninth-worst in on-the-job deaths.
"There is a pattern here," said Bill Kojola, a worker-safety expert with the AFL-CIO who helps compile the study, which is based on federal statistics.
Of the state's 25 deaths in 2009, 11 were attributed to transportation incidents, while six were caused by falls, Kojola said.
Part of the reason North Dakota keeps finding itself on the tail end of the rankings is the state's rural nature, Kojola said.
The AFL-CIO study also included a ranking of work-death rates by industry for 2003-07, which found the highest rates in the mining and agriculture industries, followed by construction.
The 2005-09 American Community Survey conducted by the Census Bureau estimated that after education, retail and health and social care, the most prevalent jobs by industry in North Dakota were in a category lumped together as farming, forestry, fishing, hunting and mining.
Plus, some of the least-deadly economic sectors are those commonly associated with urban centers, such as finance, manufacturing and information.
But the economic make-up of the state shouldn't preclude companies from focusing on creating safe workplaces, Kojola said.
"That doesn't let those employers off the hook," he said.
Attempts to reach a representative of North Dakota Workforce Safety and Insurance for comment Wednesday afternoon were not successful.
Minnesota's ranking for on-the-job deaths has also been pretty consistent. In the six reports covering data back to 2004, the state has failed to be one of the 10 lowest-ranked states for worker deaths just once - when it ranked 15th in 2005 with 3.1 deaths per 100,000.
While part of the lower rates in Minnesota could be explained by the greater amount of relatively safe jobs a large metropolis will provide, Kojola said he also credits its state-run safety inspection program.
"Minnesota has a state-run OSHA program that's one of the best in the U.S.," he said.
The Forum of Fargo-Moorhead and the Herald are both Forum Communications Co. newspapers.