Road Crashes a Significant Factor in Oilfield Accidents

There is a growing body of evidence that indicates road travel off shift may be more hazardous than working in an oil field. Between 2003 and 2009, there were 716 work-related oil and gas extraction industry deaths, a fatality rate of 27.5 for every 100,000 workers. This is seven times the fatality rate for all US workers. Curiously, the incidence rate of oilfield accidents with nonfatal injuries for the same period is 1.2 for every 100 full time workers, about one-third of the rate for all US workers at 3.5 injuries per 100 full time workers.

Of the fatalities, 208 were due to motor vehicle crashes. Other common causes include being hit by a tool or equipment (143), explosions (58), crushed by moving equipment (50) and falls (43). As the number of active oil fields increase, so do the number of fatalities and serious accidents, and are likely to get worse as the high demand for workers, especially in Texas, means less experienced workers are getting hired and working longer hours. Oil field workers have an increased rate of workplace injury and death due to employer negligence.

The finding that highway accidents are the biggest contributor to oil field accidents is perhaps not really surprising. The combined effect of fatigue and highway safety rules exemptions for oil field workers has been a major factor in these fatalities. Oil field workers work an average of 20 hours per shift, and then are expected to drive after their shift. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, oilfield workers and related fields are 8.5 times more at risk of dying in a vehicle crash than those in other industries. This startling figure could be altered for the better if only these workers were allowed to get enough rest.

If you or someone close to you sustained injury or death because of employer pressure to work longer than is safe, you may have an actionable case. Contact personal injury lawyers experienced in handling cases involving oil field accidents to find out your options. According to the website of Pohl & Berk, LLP, work-related injuries due to companies pushing their employees too hard for too long are inexcusable. While the overtime pay may be attractive, workers are often unaware of the effects exhaustion may have in their ability to continue working safely. Employers, however, should be aware of these kinds of dangers and would be negligent not to.

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