There is no denying it -- working in the oil and gas industry is dangerous. Properly applied safety standards help keep you and your co-workers safe, but many employers neglect their duties in this area.
Depending on where you work, falls might be one of your biggest risks. These types of accidents are often preventable with the right kind of safety gear, but the absence of such preventatives can cause severe injury or even death.
Fall fatalities are increasing
Data from 2003 to 2013 showed some promising news -- fatality rates related to oil and gas extraction injuries decreased across the board except for in one area. Fatalities from falls actually rose 2 percent annually during that same period of time.
The Centers for Disease Control reviewed fatal fall data from 2005 to 2014 and found that falls accounted for 15 percent of fatal events for these workers. Of those fall-related deaths, 52 percent occurred at a height more than 30 feet above the ground. Falls are also more likely to occur when workers are putting up or taking down derricks -- a drilling rig support structure.
Can oil companies do anything about it?
According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, oil and gas companies can take several steps to help prevent worker falls and fatalities. Additional measures targeted specifically for workers in charge of assembling the derricks could minimize fall risks, but they are not the only workers who need protection.
OSHA states that companies need to establish fall protection plans for all workers, which they should update annually. Oil and gas companies should also provide regular training on the programs and how to properly fit safety gear, as well as how to inspect equipment for possible flaws or breaks. While these are certainly great steps, they also take a certain level of responsibility off your employer and on to your shoulders.
I fell, what can I do?
Suffering injuries in a fall is devastating. Not only do you likely need extensive medical care, you are probably also out of work until you recover. Like other injured workers in Texas, financial concerns might push you to consider returning to work before you are ready.
Fortunately, workers' compensation benefits can help ease those concerns. If you suffered an injury while working in the oil and gas industry, workers' comp benefits may bridge the financial gap as you take the time to focus on your own recovery and well-being. Although temporary, the compensation for lost wages and medical treatment are an invaluable tool that you cannot overlook.