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Published February 15, 2013, 12:55 PM

OSHA administrator promotes safety in North Dakota oil patch

MINOT, N.D. (AP) — The regional administrator for the Occupational Safety and Health Administration has kicked off a safety campaign in the North Dakota oil patch, urging operators to end fatalities.

MINOT, N.D. (AP) — The regional administrator for the Occupational Safety and Health Administration has kicked off a safety campaign in the North Dakota oil patch, urging operators to end fatalities.

OSHA leader Gregory Baxter led Thursday's discussion to highlight what the industry calls a safety stand down. Companies are being asked to shut down for a period of time to conduct inspections or provide safety training.

"The nation's eyes are on you. You really have the opportunity here to make us a leader in oil and gas in the United States, but we don't want to do it at any expense," Baxter said. "We need to stop the injuries, illnesses and deaths. No one should lose their life for a day's wage."

The campaign was prompted by recent deaths in North Dakota's oil and gas industry, which now make up half of all workplace fatalities investigated by the Bismarck area OSHA office, said director Eric Brooks.

The Forum reports that the presentation included a video that recounted recent North Dakota oilfield fatalities, including a 22-year-old who fell 75 feet to his death, a 38-year-old who died after a boiler explosion and a 52-year-old who died from a fall during a rig move.

Brooks noted there have been two more oilfield deaths in North Dakota since he completed the video.

Baxter said he gets questions from Washington, D.C., about why North Dakota has so many fatalities.

Dustin Austin, chairman of the MonDaks Safety Network, said nearly 800 people registered for the event and more participated without registering. He said organizers wanted to bring companies together so they can work as a community to address safety issues.

"It will take all of us to improve safety up here," Austin said.

A webcast of the program was aired in four towns across the oil patch.

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