When most people think of workplace deaths, they think of industrial catastrophes along the lines of explosions, falls, or mechanical malfunctions. But for workers in the oil and gas industry, the largest cause of fatalities is truck highway crashes.
According to a recent article in the New York Times, in the past decade, more than 300 oil and gas workers were killed in highway crashes. One of the chief reasons behind that number, the Times reports, is the exemptions the oil and gas industry has “from highway safety rules that allow truckers to work longer hours than drivers in most other industries.”
Here’s a startling portion of the article:
This threat will grow substantially in coming years, safety advocates warn. According to federal officials, more than 200,000 new oil and gas wells will be drilled nationwide over the next decade. And the drilling technique used at more than 90 percent of these wells, known as hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, leads to far more trucks on the road — roughly 500 to 1,500 truck trips per well — than traditional drilling, partly because fracking requires millions of gallons of water per well.
But the jobs are also hazardous, with fatality rates that are seven times the national average across all industries. Nearly a third of the 648 deaths of oil field workers from 2003 through 2008 were in highway crashes, according to the most recent data analyzed by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. By contrast, highway crashes caused roughly a fifth of workplace fatalities across all industries in 2010.
It should come as no surprise that any attempts to take those safety-endangering exemptions away from the oil and gas industry have been met with considerable opposition from the companies that are profiting from their employees’ long hours and dangerous workplace conditions.
At The Law Offices of Frank L. Branson, we are committed to protecting American workers by holding accountable those who are responsible for the deaths and injuries of others. While nothing can replace a lost loved one, we believe that significant financial penalties in the form of jury awards can do much to improve worker safety.<Back