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Construction growth brings increase in number of worker fatalities

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After declining for years, the number of fatalities in the U.S. construction industry increased in 2012, with a fatality rate of 9.9 per 100,000 workers compared with 9.1 in 2011, according to a May report by the AFL-CIO.

North Dakota also saw an increase in construction industry fatalities, with a fatality rate of 97.4 per 100,000 workers, nearly 10 times the national rate, according to the report.

The numbers in the construction sector could be attributed to the economic boom brought on by the energy industry in the area, experts said.

“All of these people that are coming to North Dakota to work, they need places to live, they need places to eat,” said Eric Brooks, area director at the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration in Bismarck, North Dakota.

“The towns are growing up faster than anything — schools, hospitals. This construction industry has grown up at the same rate, right along side (the oil and gas industry).”

Mr. Brooks said OSHA is working to “cover both of those areas of concern” by conducting site visits and stressing safe driving, as transportation-related mishaps caused the majority the state's 65 fatalities in 2012.