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AFL-CIO: ND Worker Death Rate 'Alarming'

May 15, 2014, 12:14 PM by Ben Dunsmoor

AFL-CIO: ND Worker Death Rate 'Alarming'

The largest federation of labor unions in the country says North Dakota is the most dangerous place to work in the country with the death rate among oil and natural gas workers six times the national average for the industry.

All this week KELOLAND News has been talking about the challenges in North Dakota as the oil boom continues. In a report released this month, the American Federation of Labor says the death rate in the oil and gas industry there is 'alarming.'

The statistics released by AFL - CIO in its annual 'Death on the Job' report are from 2012. It's the same year when 38-year-old Rich Ries of Salem died on an oil rig.  Ries had been working in North Dakota for three months when he died in late January 2012 when a boiler on his rig exploded.

AFL-CIO Report

His wife, Cathy Ries, says her husband had worked as a welder in Salem before going to North Dakota to make some extra money to help out the family.  He had only planned to work there for two years but never made it home.

"When you go, if you go to North Dakota, you need to make sure you're taking care of your family because if you make that choice there is a higher than average possibility you're going to die," Cathy said.

Now, Cathy is warning others of the deadly dangers of going to North Dakota to make quick cash.  Ries says many unexperienced employees are working with large equipment in the North Dakota oil fields creating a dangerous situation.

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