NoDak oil-field companies fined in 2 separate worker deaths

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The recent deaths of two different oil-rig workers have led to fines for the companies that employed them.

The Forum of Fargo-Moorhead reports that Plains Trucking LLC, a company in Ross, N.D., has been cited for nine safety violations in the death of a worker who was cleaning the inside of a crude oil tanker on March 27.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration is proposing $28,000 in fines, says the Forum, giving the company two weeks to pay the fines or contest the citations and penalties.

The paper cites OSHA officials who say the violations included failure to evaluate the need for personal protective equipment, lack of machine guarding on pulleys and belts, use of electrical lighting that was not improved, and failure to compile a list of chemicals.

Meanwhile, Heller Casing Service in Williston has been cited and could be fined $14,000 for failing to protect a worker who was struck in the chest and killed by power tongs while laying casting pipe, the Bismarck Tribune reports.

The Associated Press says 22-year-old Kyle Winters, of Kalispell, Mont., died Jan. 31 when he was crushed while installing pipe at an oil rig north of Watford City. OSHA says Winters was struck by an improperly secured load that fell.

Just last month, USA Today and the AP cited a report from the AFL-CIO saying that North Dakota has the highest rate of worker deaths in the nation, "due in large part to the oil boom in the western part of the state in recent years."

There were 44 worker deaths in North Dakota in 2011 -- latest statistics available -- for a rate of 12.4 deaths per 100,000 workers. That was well above the national rate of 3.5 deaths per 100,000 workers, the report said.

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