Petroleum industry looking to increase safety for anticipated oil activity

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BISMARCK, N.D. - The North Dakota Petroleum Council expects an uptick in activity in the Bakken. Monday, they held a safety meeting to discuss better practices for inexperienced workers.

North Dakota's petroleum industry is facing a recruitment problem.

The state oil rig count is predicted to increase and well service companies are looking to hire hundreds of workers, but they're having trouble finding them.

"Our companies are telling us they're concerned about not having enough people that they can hire. So we know that they're not experienced, that they probably don't have training already," said North Dakota Petroleum Council Vice President Kari Cutting.

In preparation for an influx inexperienced workers, stakeholders say they want better safety practices and training.

"Get people home safely every night. That's really what it's all about," said North Dakota Safety Council Executive Director Chuck Clairmont.

"Make sure that they understand what they need to do, and they understand the hazards of the job, before they start doing the work," said Bryan Klipfel, Workforce Safety and Insurance director

The North Dakota Petroleum Council and other organizations discussed standardized training, oil industry statistics, and other protocols during Monday's safety seminar.

Professionals say they want to focus on the holistic training of workers... especially since the industry is facing competition from construction and high tech manufacturing.

"This industry cares about my future and is investing in my future. I think we need to look seriously at providing training at much younger... at those entry level opportunities that those folks come in at instead of thinking we can wait until they're managers," said Rocky Mountain Education Center dean Joan Smith.

The state's oil fatalities decreased from 18 in 2015 to four in 2016.