Working in the oilfield can be an incredibly lucrative profession; however, it is very dangerous. The fields are highly regulated by federal and Texas state laws, which create guidelines for a safe working environment. However, accidents happen all too often, especially after a too-long shift with improperly serviced equipment. When accidents happen on the oilfield, workers can suffer serious injury—even death.
Even as industry officials and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration endeavor to create safer workplace guidelines, fatalities at oilfields increased between 2017 and 2018.
Why are fatalities increasing on a national scale?
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ National Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries, the number of fatalities in the oil and gas extraction industry rose from 81 in 2017 to 94 in 2018. While this is a small margin, fatalities have been increasing in this industry since 2016.
Oil production in the United States rose significantly—nearly 25%—between 2017 and 2018. Likely, an increased quantity of work and more demanding production deadlines contributed to the heightened fatality rates in 2018. In a field that is notorious for hard labor and long hours, this is no small matter for oilfield workers and their families.
What is happening at the state level here in Texas?
Texas, the largest oil-producing state, may surprise oil workers with its fatality numbers. Statistics at the state level seem to break the national trend of worsening fatality rates. In 2017, there were 534 fatal occupational injuries in Texas related to this industry. In 2018, there were 488, which is 46 fatal accidents less than the prior year. This is a positive change, perhaps demonstrating that safety measures at worksites are truly improving conditions when followed.
An oilfield may be a dangerous work zone, but oil and gas extraction workers have the same rights to safety as any other worker—including the right to compensation when injured on the job.