There are many professions that pose a significant risk of injury to their employees. Some of the most notorious include:
- Aircraft pilots
- Construction workers
- Professions that work with animals
In addition to this list above, the oil and gas industry is also a risky industry rife with employee injuries and deaths. Not only is the oil and gas business risky in terms of speculation but for the workers who hit the fields each year, their physical safety is uncertain.
As the United States continues to increase domestic oil production, expectations for 2020 are similar to what they were in 2019. That is, they are good. Experts believe that the U.S., which has risen to the ranks of becoming the world’s largest oil producer, will see a boom in the country of exports of crude oil and petroleum products.
According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, 2020 is expected to see 13.2 million barrels of crude pumped each day. This would be up from 12.4 million barrels pumped in the previous year of 2019. The energy industry across the country is continually transforming and evolving.
How do Increases in U.S. Oil Production Affect Employees?
If the industry is strong, employees have stable jobs and regular paychecks. This also means there is more hiring to support the booming growth and ultimately more people put in harm’s way out in the field to help with production. Due to the immense amount of profits that can be acquired by energy companies, the move to push productivity far will often come at the price of employee safety.
Oil rigs are known for causing injuries to workers. It is not uncommon for a worker to be struck by an object while on the job or even fall from equipment and meet a catastrophic outcome. Workers can get caught in machinery, which will lead to significant injuries. What causes these accidents take place? There are some factors that strongly contribute to on-the-job injuries in the oil and gas industry, including:
- The expectation of fast-paced work leading to increased errors
- Workers who are not properly trained
- Shortage or absence of safeguards
Alone, any of these factors can lead to marked dangers for workers. Combined, the outcome increases the risk of injuries considerably.
What are the Injury Statistics in the Oil and Gas Industry?
Unfortunately for employees of this booming business, some of the highest severe-injury rates in both the country and the world are found in this industry. During 2015 to 2016, the rate of injuries was 148.9 per 100,000 workers. This rate of injury is often compounded due to lack of worker safety measures that is unfortunately seen across the industry.
The workers in the oil fields are often putting caution aside to meet the high production requirements they are held to. Shortcuts favoring production over safety put workers in harm’s way. Due to the habitual poor maintenance of oilfield equipment, workers are at high risk for physical trauma by structures that are not sound.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, falling objects from rigs and decks that are failing and breaking that strike workers account for the majority of oil and gas accidents. Getting caught up in defective equipment and machinery is the next most commonly seen type of oil and gas accident. Additional hazards include slips and falls and vehicular accidents.
There are many aspects of working in the oil and gas industry that pose risks to workers. In addition to the challenges discussed above, some worker’s jobs require them to handle hazardous materials that are also highly combustible. Sulfide gas is one example. Therefore, there is a risk of explosions.
In the absence of an explosion, simply working around some of these toxic materials is harmful to workers’ health. Airborne silica and diesel particulate matter circulating in the environment may cause serious irritation of the nose, lungs, and eyes. Constantly being exposed to these materials also pose the risk that long-term illness may develop.
Many of these accidents are severe causing significant injury and, in some cases, death. Some examples of injuries include:
- Bone fractures or breaks
- Finger amputation
- Brain damage
- Wounds, bruises, deep lacerations
- Chemical burns
- Hearing loss
- Vision loss
What are the OSHA Safety Regulations for the Oil and Gas Industry?
In some states, when an employee is significantly injured on the job, they must report it to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). This is a practice that began in 2015. Previously, it was only required that deaths and accidents which affected a minimum of three employees were reported to OSHA.
What this tells us is the statistics we have today do not describe a comprehensive picture of the extent of injuries and hospitalizations that occur across the industry because accidents went unreported for years. We only have a snapshot of five years of data to analyze. Additionally, OSHA does not have all the injury reports from all states. A significant number of states, 21 to be exact, do not report their injuries to OSHA. These states, California, Utah, and Wyoming, to name a few, only report that information to state agencies.
Sadly, even though the information that we have regarding injuries in the oil and gas industry is incomplete, there are very clear and alarming trends. Elevated fatalities in the industry are related to numerous safety hazards on the job.
How can You Protect Your Legal Rights After a Workplace Injury in West Virginia?
Workplace injuries happen every day in our country. When you have been injured while on the job due to negligence on the part of your employer, you have rights that require protection. You may have a case that warrants a workplace injury claim to pursue compensation. The Clarksburg workplace injury accident attorneys at Goddard & Wagoner, PLLC have extensive knowledge about workers’ compensation laws.
Our highly qualified West Virginia personal injury attorneys at Goddard & Wagoner, PLLC will always put your best interests first.
Call the effective Morgantown workplace injury accident attorneys at Goddard & Wagoner, LLC at (304) 584-1430 to schedule your free consultation at either our Clarksburg or Morgantown offices.