Report: North Dakota Tops List of States with Severe Workplace Injuries ‘By A Wide Margin’

Nancy Grover

Sarasota, FL ( – North Dakota, Arkansas and Nebraska have the dubious distinction of having the highest rates of severe workplace injuries per capita. While the rates of serious injuries declined significantly during the pandemic, several states nevertheless saw high rates of certain injuries, according to a new report.

“If there were any silver linings to the massive labor shutdowns resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s that serious workplace injuries (unsurprisingly) fell dramatically,” according to the recently released Workplace Injuries Report and Benefits Resource Guide. “But that doesn’t mean U.S. workers have been spared entirely from broken bones, amputations and other trauma while on the job.”

Using OSHA’s Severe Injury data, HelpAdvisor identified states with the highest rates of serious workplace injuries since 2015. The hardest hit industries were “those in which one might expect severe workplace injuries to occur more frequently,” the report says. Those cited specifically are production, extraction, construction, food preparation and manufacturing. The states with the highest workplace injury rates were generally in the South and Midwest.

“North Dakota led the nation in the rate of severe workplace injuries by a wide margin,” according to the study. “There have been nearly 135 severe workplace injuries for every 100,000 people in North Dakota since 2015, which was 47% higher than the state with the next highest rate.”

Transportation and material moving jobs, with a concentration of oil well pumpers are especially prevalent in North Dakota — nearly 30 times the national average. North Dakota led the nation in three specific categories of severe workplace injuries.

“Bone fractures were the most frequent type of severe workplace injury since 2015,” the study said. “Broken bones account for more severe workplace injuries than all other types combined (except for amputations).”

North Dakota saw 41.2 broken bone injuries per 100,000 workers from 2015 through 2020. It was followed by South Dakota, Nebraska, Alabama, and Arkansas.

“Amputations were the second-most frequent serious injury suffered on the job, and North Dakota again led all states by a wide margin,” the authors wrote. “Arkansas, where the concentration of logging jobs is 18% higher than the national average, saw the second-high rate of workplace amputations.”

Production jobs were prevalent in each of the next eight states on the list of high rates of amputations. The production or processing of metal, plastic, upholstery, textiles, meat, and poultry are among the types of production jobs concentrated in the states high on the list.

Serious burns was the injury category next on the list of severe injuries. Again, North Dakota topped the list, with nearly twice the rate of Alabama, which was second on the list.

“In addition to production and logging, other common at-risk workers in states with high workplace burn rates include miners and moving machine operators (West Virginia), sailors and marine oilers (Louisiana), farmers (Wisconsin) and petroleum engineers (Texas),” the report said.

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