We won’t know until next year whether the decrease in North Dakota
oil field accidents are from a lower worker census or from improved safety programs. What
we do know is that the three oil and gas-related fatalities occurring
in 2015 were lower than recent years; there were seven deaths in 2014
and 10 in 2013.
In past years, many fatalities occurred at Bakken oilfield service companies
and more happened at new entrant work sites than established companies
with robust safety programs. One reason for the difference in oil field
accidents is that experienced workers practice better safety, have more
seniority and are less subject to company layoffs.
Reviewing the 38 fatal work injuries reported for North Dakota in 2014,
shows there were 10 (26%) from contact with equipment and objects and
17 (45%) from transportation accidents. Although previous years showed
high incidence of workforce injuries, Bakken oil field injuries were proportionate
to the number of workers.
According to a North Dakota Workforce Safety and Insurance spokesperson,
when the workforce in Bakken oil field decreased so did the number of
injured worker claims. And, with more experienced workers remaining, overall
Despite the depressed oil activity, safety trainings have not decreased.
In fact, trainings sponsored by the North Dakota Safety Council have increased
15%-20% yearly in the last seven years, including 2015. Not only safety officer
participate in the training classes, participants include more ancillary
workers such as Bakken work site supervisors who are not directly in charge
of safety programming. Of course, safety experts hope that lower workplace
injuries are a result of their efforts.
It's good news that Bakken workplace sites are getting safer. However,
if you do experience a gas and oil field injury, please
contact us. We are here to help.