The gas and oil industry is an important part of the Texas economy, and many people in Jefferson County and other areas rely on this industry for their livelihood. Unfortunately, severe injuries and even accidental death are an ever-present risk for workers in this industry. An analysis released earlier this year indicates that the oil and gas industry remains dangerous despite recent gains in other industries.
Recent increase in oil industry deaths
The figures for gas and oil industry worker deaths for 2012 are not encouraging. An article written for the Houston Chronicle reports that overall, workplace deaths in Texas have dropped, based on data gathered by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration between 2007 and 2011. However, oil and gas industry deaths did not taper off during the same period. According to the same article, an average of 39 workers were killed each year during the period studied. This represents a total of 197 lives lost.
This trend doesn't seem to be limited to Texas. The 2012 Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries, as summarized on the Bureau of Labor Statistics website, found that:
- Fewer fatal work injuries were reported in 2012 than in 2011.
- The 4,383 fatal injuries that were preliminarily reported represent the second lowest figure in the more than 20 years that the CFOI has been taken.
- Fatal injuries experienced by oil and gas industry workers increased 23 percent in 2012.
- The 138 oil and gas industry workers lost represent an all-time high for the CFOI.
Even as fatal injuries are decreasing in other dangerous industries, workers in the gas and oil industry may be getting left behind. Stopping this trend may require changes on the part of both employers and employees.
Texas Mutual suggests one way to reduce fatalities
In many cases, an unsafe work environment is responsible for oil and gas industry accidents or fatalities. Occasionally, though, worker habits can contribute as well. Earlier this year, Texas Mutual Insurance Company pointed to an interesting - and preventable - cause of oil and gas industry accidents: work-related driving. Upon reviewing claims from 2011 and 2012, the company found that:
- In 2012, over 13 percent of oil and gas industry accidents were motor vehicle accidents.
- Although small, this figure represented a more than 60 percent increase over 2011.
- Almost 60 percent of oil and gas industry fatalities occurred in driving-related accidents.
- The number of driving-related fatalities increased 41 percent from 2011 to 2012.
Texas Mutual suggests that public awareness and employee education may help decrease this rising source of oil and gas industry fatalities.
Unfortunately, even if these measures are successful, oil and gas workers can still face a number of potential sources of injury. Many of these are beyond the control of workers and are not simply due to carelessness or risky behavior on the part of the individual.
If you or a loved one has been hurt or fatally injured in the course of oil and gas industry work, you should contact an attorney to find out about the compensation you may be entitled to.