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Report: North Dakota again ranks high for workplace danger

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Mike Moen

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(Prairie News Service) North Dakota has not managed to substantially reverse its rate of workplace fatalities. An annual report puts the state in the top five in the category.

The findings, from the national arm of the AFL-CIO, show more than 5,000 people were killed on the job in the U.S. in 2022, and it ranks North Dakota second in the nation for the highest worker death rate.

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Landis Larson, president of the North Dakota AFL-CIO, feels the state is not seeing much improvement compared to past reports. The authors said the Biden administration has stepped up safety enforcement but Occupational Safety and Health Administration resources are still low.

Larson emphasized the lack of help is felt locally.

"North Dakota does not have its own state OSHA program, so they rely on the federal government," Larson pointed out. "We only have seven inspectors in the state. "

In addition to boosting federal resources, Larson would like to see North Dakota overhaul policy to the way for more legal action against employers failing to prioritize safety. In a statement, the state's labor commissioner said worker deaths are lower than a decade ago and his team is committed to working with partner agencies to safeguard workers.

Larson also called on workers themselves to take action if they observe dangerous conditions on the job.

"If you have a safety issue, then you call OSHA," Larson urged. "If you give them your name, you will be protected by OSHA and that will actually spur an investigation into your workplace."

Meanwhile, agriculture and mining, oil and gas extraction topped the national list for industries with the highest fatality rates, as well as being the major drivers of North Dakota's economy