Oil and gas operations have recently revved up the Texas economy and created new jobs, including thousands of jobs in oilfield trucking. With peak salaries ranging from $70k-$110k a year, many are enticed to join the industry. However, oilfield trucking is not normal trucking, and truck drivers sometimes end up with a wilder ride than they expected.
Roads Less Travelled
Because drilling operations are temporary, the roads leading to them are often rudimentary. Drivers must haul large, heavy, hazardous loads to remote locations. However, few roads are paved, more have gravel fill, and even more are plain dirt roads. Weather and wear make these beaten paths pitted and treacherous, and rural isolation makes it difficult to get help during an emergency.
Drilling rigs operate day and night, rain or shine, all year long: the oilfield truckers who service them must drive in all kinds of conditions. Relentless summer heat makes small tasks arduous – even dangerous – and some trucks lack air conditioning, putting drivers at risk for heat-related illnesses. Boiling hot road pavement can also cause worn or under-serviced truck tires to blow out, leading to accidents. When the sun doesn’t shine, truckers are still bound to the non-stop schedule of the drilling rig, which also operates in pelting rain, in lightning storms, and even during tornado watches.
Oilfield truckers work very long hours. Hundreds of truckloads must transport water, fine-grained sand, chemicals, and cement to a rig during its operation. Creating and sustaining drilling fluids on site requires continuously importing provisions – and companies will time schedules to the minute. Consequently, many oilfield truck drivers work 14 to 16-hour shifts in addition to being on call 24/7. The tight schedule animates some drivers to speed, drive recklessly, and drive fatigued to meet deadlines.
Hazards Here, Hazards There, and Even More Over There…
Oilfield truck drivers are also exposed to the multitude of hazards present on an operational rig. Truck drivers are at risk of being pinched, crushed, or struck-by objects from heavy machinery and moving vehicles. They are at risk for hearing damage if they do not wear ear protection in designated areas. Truck drivers who haul hazardous chemicals or fine-grained silicates are at risk for exposure to their own cargo, as chemical fumes and particulates can become airborne during unloading. Other ambient toxins including hydrogen sulfide, carbon monoxide, and other hydrocarbon fumes present poisoning dangers. Plus, other inert oilfield accidents including slips and falls, electrocution, fires, and explosions are also possible. Rigs are complex, unpredictable, volatile places, and everyone must be careful.
Unfortunately, oilfield trucking represents the bifurcated danger posed by oil and gas operations. The extraordinarily demanding job takes its toll on truck drivers. Conversely, fatigued, hasty, or drunk truck drivers can also endanger others. Companies are responsible for encouraging safe driving practices, maintaining truck fleets, and carefully managing rig sites. The safety of everyone else depends on it.
Wyatt Law Firm Fights for the Wrongfully Injured
If you or a loved one has been injured due to a trucking accident or an oilfield accident, the Wyatt Law Firm is here for you. We have the expertise, experience, and determination to get you just compensation.
Don’t walk away from an accident that may never walk away from you. Let us tell your story.
Let us fight for you.
For more information on oilfield accidents, industrial accidents, and trucking accidents, explore our legal blog.
Roadmaster Drivers School. (2019, January 09). Texas Oilfield Truck Drivers: Life in the oilfields. Retrieved August 19, 2019, from https://www.roadmaster.com/blog/texas-oilfield-truck-drivers/