Can you guess which industry has a similar fatality rate to that of U.S. military troops serving in Afghanistan? Although it can be hard to imagine a job in America that is that dangerous, the reality is that oil workers are dying, and things are not getting much better. While the job itself is inherently dangerous, it does not explain this high fatality rate. Therefore, you need to look at safety practices.
Every workplace should provide workers with the safest possible environment. This includes providing safety training and providing safety equipment when necessary. Texas employers who do not meet these standards frequently face fines for safety violations, but it does not seem like those fines are doing much to protect workers.
Workers face high fatality rates
Drilling for oil is a hard and dangerous job. When compared with all other industries in America combined, the fatality rate for oil workers is five times higher. Between 2008 and 2017, no less than 1,566 workers lost their lives in work-related accidents. According to the U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics, this death rate is roughly the same as military members serving in Afghanistan over the same period.
The number of deaths could even go even higher. At the end of Dec. 2018, oil and gas extraction companies in Texas had about 2,400 more workers than in the previous year. The number of support activity workers also grew to approximately 170,600.
Fines are not helping
During the same period in which those 1,566 workers died, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration issued around 10,873 safety violations to oil and gas extraction companies. Of those, the agency categorized 64% as serious. According to OSHA, serious violations involve hazards will probably cause severe physical harm or death.
OSHA also investigated about 552 different accidents in which at least one person died. The agency issued citations and fines in all of those cases, with the average fine totaling $16,813. But most companies did not have to pay the full fines. OSHA reduced the fines by an average of 30%, which is not unheard of.
Hazards are everywhere
Snapped cables, hazardous machinery and toxic chemicals are only a few examples of the many dangers that oil workers encounter on a daily basis. This means that instead of collecting nearly 11,000 citations for safety violations, oil companies should be doing much more to protect their workers. This is sadly not the case. Not surprisingly, most employers are not eager to share that the fatality rate for oil workers is so high.
Even though you know the oil and gas industry is hazardous, you did not expect to say goodbye to your loved one for the last time. You also might not know about death benefits through workers’ compensation. You and your family deserve help in the aftermath of an unexpected death, and a knowledgeable attorney who is experienced with Texas workers’ compensation can set you on the right path to receiving the benefits you and your family need.