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Published April 28, 2011, 03:53 PM

ND Second Worst State for Workplace Deaths

North Dakota's per-capita rate of on-the-job deaths remains among the highest in the country, a new report shows. Officials cite the state's rural nature as a big reason.

By: Associated Press,

FARGO, N.D. (AP) — North Dakota's per-capita rate of on-the-job deaths remains among the highest in the country, a new report shows. Officials cite the state's rural nature as a big reason.

The AFL-CIO report shows the state had 25 workplace fatalities in 2009, which translates into a rate of 7.2 deaths per 100,000 workers, The Forum newspaper reported. That put North Dakota in a tie with Louisiana for the second-worst rate in the nation, behind 10.8 deaths per 100,000 workers in Montana.

North Dakota's rate was more than double the national average of 3.3 deaths per 100,000 workers. The state consistently has one of the higher rates in the nation. It has not ranked better than ninth-worst since 2004.

The AFL-CIO says the highest rates of work deaths are in the mining and agriculture industries, both of which are mainstays of North Dakota's economy.

"That doesn't let those employers off the hook," said Bill Kojola, a worker-safety expert with the AFL-CIO who helps compile the study based on federal statistics.

Bryan Klipfel, director of the North Dakota Workforce Safety and Insurance agency, was not immediately available for comment Thursday. He has said in the past that job-related traffic deaths, particularly in western North Dakota's booming oil patch, remain a problem.

Eleven of the state's 25 workplace deaths in 2009 were attributed to transportation incidents, Kojola said.

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