A primary industry here in Texas that employs numerous residents is the oil and gas industry. If you work in the industry, you know that it has its rewards and its risks. Even if you and your employer take all of the necessary safety precautions for the obvious hazards you face each day, you may not be aware of other, less obvious dangers.
You may actively protect yourself from things such as equipment injuries, vehicles moving around the site and other potential hazards that cause physical injuries such as broken bones, spinal cord injuries and traumatic brain injuries to name a few. However, it's often the dangers you can't see that present the biggest risks to your health.
The unseen dangers of working in the oil and gas industry
You could suffer exposure to the following chemicals and other dangers while on the job:
- The rise in hydraulic fracturing since the turn of the century prompted the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health to conduct an assessment that revealed that working in these operations presents a risk of exposure to airborne silica, which could lead to a host of health problems.
- Oil and gas wells often produce a gas called hydrogen sulfide. Your employer should provide a plan to monitor for this gas and train employees on how to detect this gas.
- Diesel fuel is plentiful at drilling sites. It's used in equipment, vehicles and machinery. Exposure to high levels of diesel particulate matter could endanger your health.
- Believe it or not, noise presents another danger. Loud equipment and other exposure to high levels of noise could cause significant hearing loss.
Employers must take steps to protect employees from these and other less-visible hazards.
Use the appropriate safety measures
To reduce your risk of injury or illness from the types of hazards mentioned above, you may need to use respiratory equipment, eye and face protection and other personal protective equipment. It may also help to understand more about the hazardous materials and chemicals that you work with on a daily basis. Your employer should inform you of the possible chemicals and other hazards you may be exposed to and provide you with the information and training you need to protect yourself.
If you suffer an injury or illness
Despite your and your employer's best efforts, you may still end up suffering an illness or injury while at work. In that case, you may be entitled to workers' compensation benefits to help with your medical bills and lost income. Unfortunately, the process can prove frustrating and challenging if you go it alone. Fortunately, legal resources are available to help you obtain the benefits you need to get through this trying time.