Any area with an abundance of pipelines and oil wells can become a hazardous site in certain circumstances. Disasters such as oil drilling platform explosions are rare in Texas, but experts warn of other dangers to avoid in such industries.
Explosions are rare in the oil industry, but do occur along with other oil field-related accidents. San Antonio Express News covered major oil field accidents in 2015 that claimed the lives of over thirty workers in Texas. The article notes of the immense danger of oil fields and the likely fatal consequences, pointing out that Texas counted for half of the country’s oil field deaths in 2014. In addition, out of the 615 oil field workers who died between the years 2010 and 2014, 44 percent of those workers were Texas residents. One factor experts point to is the increasing volume of workers in oil fields; more people inevitably result in a higher volume of accidents. Safety violations also lead to a substantial amount of workplace fatalities, but the leeway allowing OSHA to penalize companies is limited.
Contrary to popular belief, explosions are not the only cause of worker fatalities in oil fields. The Houston Chronicle writes that drug use has also infiltrated into the average workday in oil fields all over the state of Texas. Long and grueling hours can lead to severe exhaustion, and many workers turn to drugs such as cocaine and meth to maintain alertness throughout long shifts — such drug use can ultimately lead to impaired judgement and a greater risk for accidents. Despite the economic security of the industry’s high-paying jobs, the oil rush is in part housing an expanding market for illegal drugs. The Houston also shares statistical data revealing the correlation between drilling activity around the Permian Basin and the number of times troopers have seized crystal meth during traffic stops.