Category Archives: Oil Field Worker Injuries

Common Dangers for Oil Field Workers

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Employees are involved in workplace injuries every day. According to a recent report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there were 3 million workplace injuries and illnesses in 2015, or a rate of 3 for every 100,000 employees in the United States. Some jobs are naturally more dangerous than others, and the oil and gas industry is near the top of the list. The same report found that oil and gas workers sustain injury at a rate five times that of the general population. The rate of oil and gas field injuries is rising – up 27 percent from 2014.

Deepwater Horizon – Only the Tip of the Iceberg

BP made national headlines in 2010 when the Deepwater Horizon station went up in flames, killing 10 workers and dumping millions of gallons of oil into the Gulf region. The area still feels the impact of the incident today. But this media attention–grabber is only part of the story. Onshore drilling is one of the most dangerous jobs of all, routinely killing or injuring workers.

An investigative report from the Houston Chronicle found that the federal government fails oil and gas employees. Between 2007 and 2012 – considered the beginning of the “fracking boom” – 663 oil and gas workers lost their lives on the job. Nearly half of these were in Texas. In 2012 alone, there were 65 workplace deaths and 82 crush injuries, 79 dismemberments, 92 burns, and 675 broken limbs.

The federal government is largely to blame for failing to prevent these deaths. The Chronicle report highlighted some of the worst offenses:

  • The federal government has not implemented safety standards and procedures for onshore drilling in 22 years, even as offshore drilling incidents such as Deepwater Horizon had health and safety officials clamoring for more oversight.
  • The Occupational Health and Safety Administration is only required to investigate incidents that involve loss of life or require at least three workers to be hospitalized. These investigations accounted for only 150 of the 18,000 injuries and illnesses in Texas between 2007 and 2013.
  • When OSHA did conduct an investigation, they found safety violations in nearly 80 percent of accidents in Texas alone. They also concluded that many could have been prevented with safer equipment or procedures.

What Are the Most Dangerous Tasks on the Job?

Oil workers are vulnerable to all manner of injury, but the most common are not what you might think. While explosions catch national headlines, the most dangerous tasks in the industry are:

1. Driving

Most workers aren’t killed in the fields or on the rig, but on the highway. According to a New York Times report, more than 300 workers have been killed on the highway in the past decade. The publication cited the case of Timothy Roth, who began a four-hour commute back to his home in West Virginia after completing a 17-hour shift in the field. Just 10 minutes in, the driver fell asleep and crashed into a highway barrier. He was killed instantly.

The federal government does not regulate duty hours as they do for truck drivers. In fact, many oil workers are expected to make hours-long commutes after working shifts that exceed 15 hours.

2. Operating Heavy Machinery

Oil and gas companies use heavy equipment such as derricks, drillers, and hoists on a regular basis. Combine this with fatigue from working long shifts, and you have a recipe for disaster.

Oil and gas workers suffer dismemberment, broken bones, and crush injuries regularly – and none of these incidents make the national news. Our federal government must take steps to protect these vulnerable workers and decrease the number of preventable injuries and deaths.

If you or a loved one has been injured while working as an oil or gas worker near Bakersfield, contact the personal injury firm of Rodriguez & Associates for experienced and skilled legal representation.

Posted by highrank at 11:43 pm

Serious Health Issues and Injuries for Oil Field Workers

Friday, January 20, 2017

The oil and gas industry poses significant threats to worker safety in numerous ways – the toxicity of the oil, the hazards of working with heavy machinery, and the risk of fires and explosions, to name a few. From 2003 to 2010, workers died on the job at a rate that was seven times greater than the rate for all U.S. industries. In this time period, 823 oil and gas workers suffered fatal job-related injuries. Despite enhanced Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) regulations for the oil and gas industry, oil field workers still face exposure to significant health risks while on the clock.

Oil Field Vehicle Accidents

Most fatal injuries result from transportation accidents; particularly when workers have to drive from one work site to another. Drivers often traverse dangerous rural back roads. Fatigue and drowsy driving are significant issues in the oil and gas industry, where workers often work long shifts. When groups of workers pile into one vehicle with a drowsy driver, it can result in multiple deaths. Data shows that about four out of every 10 workers killed on the job in the oil field industry die in highway vehicle accidents.

Today, some oil field companies have installed driver performance monitors in vehicles to track the number of times a driver speeds, swerves, or slams on his/her brakes. Monitoring driver behavior may help reduce the number of oil field worker truck accidents. OSHA has also issued multiple motor vehicle safety worksheets and programs for oil field workers.

Struck-By, Caught-In, Caught-Between

According to OSHA, three out of five on-site deaths in the oil extraction industry result from workers getting struck-by, caught-in, or caught-between objects. Oil field workers work with moving vehicles and heavy equipment, as well as dangerous high-pressure lines. Cranes, derricks, and hoists all pose a threat to worker safety, as do well servicing structures and drilling equipment. Personal protection gear such as the correct foot and headwear may help workers stay safe from these hazards.

Fires and Explosions

Deadly fires and explosions are relatively rare in the oil and gas industry due to stringent safety regulations, but when they do occur, they are extremely deadly. The vapors and fumes of oil are flammable, as are the well gases and hydrogen sulfide wells, trucks, and equipment may produce. Electrical sources, cigarettes, open flames, welding tools, hot surfaces, lightning, and static may all ignite these fumes, causing a devastating fire or explosion. Crude oil vapors can ignite a flash fire, causing widespread burn injury and casualties. Oil field workers may avoid serious injury by wearing flame-resistant clothing, carefully handling flammable liquids, and learning emergency fire safety techniques.

Falls on Oil Fields

Oil field workers operate on high platforms and equipment located hundreds of feet above the ground, such as drilling platforms and masts. Falls from great heights can easily be fatal. If a worker survives a bad fall, he or she will most likely suffer some kind of head, neck, back, or brain injury, as well as broken bones. Workers can prevent falls by following the safety requirements for personal fall arrest systems, as well as avoiding sources of slip, trip, and fall accidents.

Toxic Chemical Exposures

The very nature of the oil and gas industry involves dealing with toxic chemicals and dangerous fumes. Oil field workers encounter toxic fumes every day in the field, putting them at high risk for serious health conditions related to chemical inhalation. Hydraulic fracturing oil field work exposes workers to silica, a naturally occurring mineral that can cause lung problems when inhaled. The rise in hydraulic fracking may lead to an increase in silica-related illnesses such as lung disease. With the proper employee training and OSHA-approved safety gear, workers can avoid chemical-related illnesses.

Posted by highrank at 5:36 pm