In 2007, before the state's oil boom took off, North Dakota's worker fatality rate was 7 deaths per 100,000 employees.
House Minority Leader Kenton Onstad, a Parshall Democrat whose district is in the heart of the oil patch, said oil companies and contractors must do more to identify the reasons behind the high death rate. Contributing factors could be inexperience among new workers, he said.
Kari Cutting, vice president of the North Dakota Petroleum Council, a lobbying group for oil companies, emphasized that transportation accidents were behind the high worker death rate in the industry.
"The infrastructure is so behind the industry itself that it'll take years to catch up," Onstad said.
Cutting said increasing the amount of water and petroleum transported by pipeline — and using multi-well drilling pads — could make the roads safer. Using pipelines and multi-well drilling pads could mean between 600 and 800 truck trips per site rather than the 2,000 needed now, she said.