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The remains of a fertilizer plant burn after an explosion at the plant in the town of West, near Waco, Texas early April 18, 2013. The deadly explosion ripped through the fertilizer plant late on Wednesday, injuring more than 100 people, leveling dozens o
Good thing there aren't many regulations on fertilizer plants in Texas, eh?
The workplace fatality rate held steady at 3.4 deaths per 100,000 workers in 2012, which means that 4,628 workers were killed on the job in America in 2012, according to the AFL-CIO's annual "Death on the Job" report. Where you work makes a huge difference in the risk of death. Take North Dakota:
  • The state’s 2012 job fatality rate of 17.7 per 100,000 is more than five times the national average and is one of the highest state job fatality rates ever reported for any state. The state’s fatality rate more than doubled from a rate of 7.0 per 100,000 in 2007, and the number of workers killed on the job increased from 25 to 65.
  • Latino workers accounted for 12 of the North Dakota deaths in 2012, a fourfold increase from the three Latino worker deaths in 2011.
  • The fatality rate in the mining and oil and gas extraction sector in North Dakota was an alarming 104.0 per 100,000, more than six times the national fatality rate of 15.9 per 100,000 in this industry; and the construction sector fatality rate in North Dakota was 97.4 per 100,000, almost ten times the national fatality rate of 9.9 per 100,000 for construction.
By contrast, the workplace fatality rate in Massachusetts was just 1.4 per 100,000 workers. Obviously some industries will always be more dangerous than others, but the elevated fatality rate for construction workers in North Dakota versus other states shows that it's not just that. Who you are also matters: Latino workers were particularly at risk, with a workplace death rate of 3.7 per 100,000 workers; nearly two-thirds of the Latinos killed on the job were born outside the United States.

The state to state variations in fatalities remind us that regulation and oversight work. They save lives—something to remember when Republicans drone on about "job-killing regulations." That regulations necessarily kill jobs is just not true, but if you need more evidence that regulations save lives, consider that, according to the AFL-CIO, since the 1970 passage of the Occupational Safety and Health Act, "The job fatality rate has been cut by 81 percent; more than 492,000 workers' lives have been saved."

Then consider that Texas hasn't seen last year's devastating fertilizer plant explosion as a reason to push for new safety measures.

Originally posted to Daily Kos Labor on Thu May 08, 2014 at 10:36 AM PDT.

Also republished by WE NEVER FORGET, In Support of Labor and Unions, and Daily Kos.

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Comment Preferences

  •  That's the Big Oil Boom State. (5+ / 0-)

    Problem solved!!!

    We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

    by Gooserock on Thu May 08, 2014 at 11:02:15 AM PDT

  •  some of the analysis links training and inexperien (5+ / 0-)

    in the oil and mining sector in North Dakota and the need for better training to lower the fatality rate.

  •  North Dakota is pretty relaxed with worker safety (6+ / 0-)

    Sort of like Texas.  Heavily Republican.  Regulations get in the way. . .  that sort of thing.

    •  to be fair (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      NewRomeIsBurning, MVOregon, luerwulf

      MA does not exactly do a lot of real work.  It has a much higher rate of financial industry, you know the people who con people out their homes and set up loans that can never be paid. Yes that is much better.  Not to mention their thriving gun manufacturing industry, which as we all know results in no deaths whatsoever.

      ND has practically no cushy jobs.  Most of the work done now is fracking which is inherently dangerous.  Same thing in Texas.  You want to get the worker death rate down in Texas.  Stop the Keystone XL pipeline.  Have the Canadians build their own damn refineries. Let Canadian workers die in building and working when a refinery explodes.  Have Canadian children die of exposure to noxious fumes.

      •  More likely, Canada will have workplace safety (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        requirements, regulations and inspections that will keep the death toll way, way lower than does North Dakota's current laissez faire attitude toward workplace safety.  

        As to "cushy jobs,"  North Dakota has eleven colleges and  universities for its fewer than 700,000 people, its health care industry serves not only the state's citizenry but many from adjacent states, and, among others, Microsoft has a huge campus in Fargo. Total non-farm employment in ND is 459,000 and of those, 88,000 are in Construction, mining and manufacturing -- about 20% of the non-farm workforce. Some 80,000 North Dakotans work in government, 35,000 in professional and business services, 41,000 in leisure and hospitality, 60,000 in education and health service and 30,000 in financial activities and information.

        It is true that oil and gas and construction are dangerous employment, but really, construction goes on everywhere and mining goes on in a lot of places. In many places the workers in these sectors are unionized and training and safety are a priority, other places (like North Dakota) unions are frowned upon and regulation/inspection is pretty much non-existent. There is no question that this horrendous death toll results for too much, too fast in the way of oil extraction and way, way too little in the way of safety regulation and inspections. It is also true as someone upthread mentioned, that training is a factor -- again, too much development too soon. Slow down, train workers and assure safe work environments. That's what's needed there.

        The good we secure for ourselves is precarious and uncertain, is floating in mid-air, until it is secured for all of us and incorporated into our common life. Jane Addams

        by Alice Olson on Fri May 09, 2014 at 02:04:44 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Cushy jobs (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          PuddinTame39, CatKinNY

          Fortunately, in North Dakota, who have never had a boom, do not realize that their wages are totally substandard and are about what the workers in Alaska made in the middle 1970's.  Their boom will turn their state into a fiasco controlled by a few billionaires and no matter how much they make per hour most of them will never have much at all.

  •  I couldn't get things to render well in my browser (0+ / 0-)

    Was there something in there showing fatality rates by state?

    LG: You know what? You got spunk. MR: Well, Yes... LG: I hate spunk!

    by dinotrac on Thu May 08, 2014 at 06:21:29 PM PDT

  •  I've been called a lot of names, but "expendable" (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    thanatokephaloides, JeffW

    is unacceptable in all but the most desperate circumstances this definitely isn't.

  •  Those guys are dying and we keep driving (9+ / 0-)

    our landcruisers down to the dog grooming salon and taking multi flights per year. Oil does not come without paying a price.

    Besides being dangerous it's very dirty. Lots of bad chemicals and people are exposed to them for too long.

    12 hour shifts get tiring. I remember working for days on end without the mercury ever climbing above zero. Outside work. North Dakota is one of the few places left where if someone is willing to do hard dangerous work one can make a middle class wage.

    We could make all wages middle class, and the demand for more workers would either drive wages even higher or heavens to betsy maybe make them more safe. I've never seen OSHA at a job site, ever, not in my entire life.

    “Conservation… is a positive exercise of skill and insight, not merely a negative exercise of abstinence and caution…” Aldo Leopold

    by ban nock on Thu May 08, 2014 at 06:22:47 PM PDT

  •  Not for nothing (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    But this diary is very quick to jump to the conclusion that this elevated death rate in North Dakota is due to poor safety regulation.

    Granted, it seems like a pretty logical conclusion but a lot of things that seem logical can be wrong.

    Each death can be attributed to some cause or other. You'd have to deep dive the data to understand exactly what is going on here. The fact that OSHA has been generally responsible for large scale declines in the death rate doesn't necessarily imply that the same is going on here in reverse.

    (-5.50,-6.67): Left Libertarian
    Leadership doesn't mean taking a straw poll and then just throwing up your hands. -Jyrinx

    by Sparhawk on Thu May 08, 2014 at 06:28:20 PM PDT

    •  This is true, sparhawk (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Alice Olson
      Each death can be attributed to some cause or other.
      and if you look up, for instance, North Dakota fatalities, you will undoubtedly find that employer violations helped kill those workers.

      “The answer must be, I think, that beauty and grace are performed whether or not we will or sense them. The least we can do is try to be there.” ― Annie Dillard, Pilgrim at Tinker Creek

      by 6412093 on Thu May 08, 2014 at 07:09:19 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  And What Percentage Were Men? Just Asking (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Since that usually gets overlooked.

    Men are so necessarily mad, that not to be mad would amount to another form of madness. -Pascal

    by bernardpliers on Thu May 08, 2014 at 06:30:15 PM PDT

  •  Hannity's death camps (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Not coincidentally, North Dakota is where Sean Hannity has been encouraging his listeners to move to for "careers in the energy industry."

    Can we charge that psychopath with murder now?

  •  Thanks Fracking! (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    That's what a fracking boom will do for you.

  •  I don't understand (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    There were 65 workers killed in ND in 2012.  But when I checked the OSHA web site, OSHA did not investigate a single worker death in ND in 2012. Hmm.

    “The answer must be, I think, that beauty and grace are performed whether or not we will or sense them. The least we can do is try to be there.” ― Annie Dillard, Pilgrim at Tinker Creek

    by 6412093 on Thu May 08, 2014 at 08:38:33 PM PDT

    •  The OSHA web site may be inaccurate (0+ / 0-)

      OSHA told a newspaper in mid-2012 they investigated 7 of the 14 worker deaths in the prior fiscal year.

      “The answer must be, I think, that beauty and grace are performed whether or not we will or sense them. The least we can do is try to be there.” ― Annie Dillard, Pilgrim at Tinker Creek

      by 6412093 on Thu May 08, 2014 at 08:42:53 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Is Your Job Killing You? (0+ / 0-)

    "There are as many as 575,000 hazardous chemical products in workplaces. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) estimates that over 32 million workers are exposed to hazardous chemicals. Evidence collected by OSHA indicates that chemical exposure occurs in every type of industry. ....."

  •  Job Killing Regulation or something like that (4+ / 0-)

    You do realize that if The Guvm'nt imposes onerous regulations on businesses, why that'll just kill jobs and where will the worker git money to put food on his family?  Why, anyone just knows that it's better to kill workers than jobs, 'cause if the job kills the worker, the job'll still be there.

    Or so the GOP would have us believe.

  •  The republicans in ND have been bragging (0+ / 0-)

    that they brought in all kinds of jobs with no regulations.

    Vote like your life depends on it because if republicans are in office you are much more likely to die early.

  •  Don't fret, (0+ / 0-)

    most if not all of them were men. Who cares if some men die? Men are like spare parts, amirite?

  •  not a word (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    catilinus, CatKinNY

    Not a word has been said from the republicans in ND about this issue. How do I know, I live here in ND.
    The repubs here are just as far right as any in the country. They will take all credit for all the money BIG OIL has brought into our state but won't take claim for all the bad that goes with it.
    I am a Proud Union Ironworker Local 512 and it just disgust myself and all proud union members that so many lives were lost and will continue to go on as long as the repubs are in charge.we have looked behind the curtain and don't like what we've seen. Change is coming here in ND.

    •  Welcome to DKOS caeyb43. I salute you for (0+ / 0-)

      being both a proud Union Ironworker and for your disgust-both of which mark you as a good soul in my book.

      Welcome to Daily Kos. If you have any questions about how to participate here, you can learn more at the Community Guidelines, the Knowledge Base, and the Site Resource Diaries. Diaries labeled "Open Thread" are also great places to ask. We look forward to your contributions.
       ~~ from the DK Partners & Mentors Team.

      It will never happen for the first time until it does.

      by catilinus on Sat May 10, 2014 at 12:05:34 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Disgust AND frustration (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      Additionally, caseyb43, you and I live in a right to work state.  This state has demonized and dismissed the importance of union membership.  One thing I became aware of when becoming a union member, was the emphasis the union placed on the safety of its members.  A level of safety that far exceeds that of the private sector.  

      Yes, we've not heard from the repubs on this safety disaster nor do I anticipate one to be forthcoming.  They're busy taking credit for the budgetary windfall we're experiencing, convincing themselves that it was their legislative prowess that was responsible for it.

      I'm most frustrated with the fact that we are a right to work state.  I'm frustrated with the fact that most here in ND view unions as being nonessential, as having too great an emphasis on safety, as being less productive, job destroying, and costing too much to employ.  I can only surmise these negative views as coming from ignorance.  I've been asked how much it costs me per month to belong to the union.  I normally reply, how much is it costing you not to belong.  In this right to work state, it costs some their lives.

  •  Job Killing Regulations (0+ / 0-)

    This phrase should probably be read as no regulations lead to jobs that kill.  It is very nice that ND has increased the number of jobs but they really shouldn't have to be replacing workers killed on the job.  Republicans are always touting worker's freedom to take the job but if the job choices are limited, how much freedom is there?  Employers have to pay more to fill dangerous jobs, why not spend some of that to make the jobs safer?

  •  and the beat goes on and on (0+ / 0-)

    While safety should rightly be first reasons on the list for regulation it is not the only reason.  There are other “safety “issues that also affect us in huge ways: regulations for and including air, water and soil contamination also rank high.  Sure, profits are needed for any company to work but the questions these days is “how rich is rich’ and this seems to be plaguing us profoundly today as were in or around 1860. One can see regulations as a win win win because so called regulations save us as a society in the short and long run; they create more jobs while protecting society from bad human behavior if left unchecked. This should be very evident.  
    It seems that today’s corporation and some of the richest people amongst us today are in a race to have the most while in the process they are destroying the very thing they will need to sustain their lifestyles( the human labor force) . I really hope to see one day when we as a society can see the damage we do because all we will end up doing is destroying our species and the earth will eventually heal while we will just be dust in the wind and long long gone because of an invented thing called commerce, money that seems to be the very reason of our existence (I beg to differ on that personally).
    What a wonderful planet we have and for supposedly being the smartest of all life on earth I would really have to question that. Maybe one day our children may be able to do what we can’t but that remains to be seen. I really wonder what it would take to replace this destructive type of thing called money, commerce in order for the human race to focus on taking care of our planet and people in a way that is good for everybody. Now that is the question.

  •  Regulations (0+ / 0-)

    You wouldn't like all of these regulations if you had a few billion invested in a company and some little puny human being got in the way of making money!  Money is God and people are not a part of God's world!

  •  A day w/o killing SOMETHING is a day wasted in ND (0+ / 0-)

    "Job-killing regulations"?  

    Worker-killing lack of regulations is more like it.

  •  North Dakota's sorry record. (0+ / 0-)

    Oil field work is dangerous.  Add to that a state that is fairly "red" in it's attitudes toward government rules. And it's historically an agricultural culture used to the inherent dangers in that world as opposed to other industrial or resource extraction pursuits.  Now add to that a work environment driven by entrepreneurial instincts to race to meet what may be an ephemeral market.
    And one more thing.  Cocaine and meth are readily available to fuel the frenetic work pace.  What does that do to workers, especially highly paid ones who can afford the drugs?
    This is not all good.  But we should be careful about drawing broad conclusions from this anomaly in our nation's work environment.  Better to focus on broader issues of worker safety and the factors which hamper improvements.

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