It hardly gets more unsettling than the lead sentence from a recent report about our North Dakota oil fields: “North Dakota is the most dangerous state in the country for oil field workers.” The North Dakota’s oil worker fatality rate is 75 deaths per 100,000 workers – nearly three times the national rate.
Bakken Oil Workers Taking Risks & Shortcuts
In the report, Dark Side Of The Boom: What Makes North Dakota Oil And Gas So Dangerous?, Inside Energy says part of the problem is a “culture of risk-taking” that contributes to the high fatality rate in the oil and gas industry. “Workers, especially new workers, have the go-get-’em kind of attitude,” one oil company safety specialist said. “They think, ‘Oh I can do that. I can do this little shortcut.’
Well, when you’re working with the pressures and dangers that are inherent to the oil field, you can’t do shortcuts.”
According to the report:
- Inexperience plays a large role in North Dakota’s high oil and gas industry fatality rate.
- Half of the oil and gas workers who die in vehicle accidents aren’t wearing seat belts.
- For most oil and gas companies, it’s unlikely they’ll ever have an OSHA safety inspection in North Dakota.
- Big oil companies aren’t directly responsible for workplace safety. They contract out almost every dangerous job on an oil well to smaller companies.
Watford City to Williston Overrun with Reckless Driving
Elsewhere, a report by Aljazeera America about reckless driving and truck accidents on the Bakken Shale fields makes the same points. “It’s go, go, go, and they ignore the rules,” a North Dakota-based trucker said, echoing what many other workers have said about the culture of flouting safety amid the oil boom.”
The second report says the 40-mile stretch of U.S. Hwy. 85 from Watford City to Williston has become overrun with large trucks working the Bakken Shale.
In 2013, 20 percent (one in five) of all traffic fatalities in North Dakota took place in McKenzie County, where Watford City is the county seat. “It’s inexperienced drivers who haven’t been driving for 20 or 30 years,” another trucker said.
Larson Law Firm, P.C. Can Help
Lack of experience is no excuse for oil field truckers or other workers ignoring safety rules and causing accidents that lead to death and injury. Nor is it excusable for oil company supervisors and managers of any size to ignore regulations because they’re confident they’ll never be inspected.
If you or a loved one of yours has been injured or killed because of negligence in a North Dakota oil field, you have legal options. Contact a North Dakota oil field litigation attorney at the Larson Law Office in Minot today.
We have extensive experience pursuing oil field death and catastrophic injury cases throughout North Dakota, and we can discuss your case with you in a free initial legal consultation.