Texas is practically the center of the oil and gas industry in the United States, and oil and gas boom of the recent past has been great for the Texas economy in a number of ways. Not only do we drill and produce a lot of oil, but we also produce much of the oil field equipment used around the world. Last year, Houston was rated the second-most important city in the world when it comes to oil and gas, beating out cities in the Middle East, Russia and South America.
Unfortunately, with our prominence in the oil and gas industry comes a downside, which is an inordinate number of workplace injuries and fatalities. Because Texas is so large and has so much oil and gas industry activity, some argue that the accident rate is rather low when compared to other oil and gas boom states like North Dakota, but most would argue that the numbers are troubling.
Oil and Gas Accidents From Workplace Hazards
Oil and gas work is inherently hazardous, given the types of materials workers are dealing with and the machinery used, but the hazards can easily be minimized. Yet, since the increase in fracking activity led to a massive increase in oil and gas production beginning in about 2008, the number of injuries and deaths in Texas has spiked; between 2007 and 2012, according to one analysis, Texas accounted for a total of 40 percent of oil field fatalities nationwide. In 2013 alone, out of 112 oil and gas worker deaths nationwide, 50 occurred in Texas.
There are a lot of reasons cited for the problem, not the least of which is that federal and state workplace safety authorities have failed to develop and implement sufficient safety standards and procedures for onshore oil and gas drilling. Recently, a former OSHA official noted that, because problems with offshore oil drilling had been addressed to a greater degree, onshore drilling is not more dangerous than offshore drilling. In addition, the State of Texas doesn’t have a sufficient number of inspectors to take a look at working conditions for oil and gas workers.
According to OSHA and the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the most common types of fatal accidents that happen within the oil and gas industry nationwide include the following (how they rank in Texas is in parentheses):
- Vehicle accidents (1)
- Struck-by and pinning accidents, in which a worker is caught between two machines (4)
- Explosions and fires (2)
- Falls, including slips, trips and falls (3)
- Confined space accidents (6)
- Chemical exposure (5)
Oil and gas workers tend to suffer more severe injuries with longer recovery times than workers in other industries. Given the sheer number of workers in the oil and gas industry and the inherent danger of the industry itself, accidents are almost inevitable. However, in almost all cases, each individual accident can be prevented. Such accidents and injuries usually occur due to recklessness or carelessness, failures on the part of an employer to keep regular maintenance and repair schedules or to properly train and communicate with all workers. In many cases, employers have failed to develop and/or implement sufficient safety procedures or to keep them up to date.
Contact an Oil and Gas Accident Lawyer
If you or a loved one have been injured or killed in an accident, it is important to get the advice of an experienced and knowledgeable oil and gas attorney, like the ones at the Gutierrez Law Firm, as soon as possible. Our Oil Field Accident Attorneys will review your case and your employment documents thoroughly to consider any facts that could affect your case and can try to get you the compensation you need to recover.