The number of oil and gas workers killed on the job in Texas increased in 2012 by nearly 60 percent from the previous year, according to a recent investigation by the Houston Chronicle. The Chronicle’s investigative report, Peril in the Oil Patch, revealed that 65 oil and gas workers died as a result of work-related injuries in 2012, the highest number in a decade.
Of the 663 workers in the oilfield-related industries reportedly killed in the U.S. from 2007-2012, about 40 percent were workers in Texas. Many other oilfield workers suffered serious injuries.
In the last five years since Texas’ most recent oil and gas boom began in 2008 in the Barnett Shale, the Permian Basin, and the Eagle Ford Shale, at least 18,000 oil and gas-related workers reported on-the-job injuries and illnesses. In addition to fatal injuries, other work-related injuries include burns, crush injuries, amputations and broken bones.
Additional findings of the Chronicle investigation reveal that although offshore drilling accidents such as the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico led to increased safety standards, for the last 22 years the federal government has failed to implement safety standards and procedures for onshore drilling.
“The truth is, offshore drilling is a lot safer than onshore,” said R. Dean Wingo, who retired last year from his position as a Texas-based OSHA regional administrator. “We see things in land drilling that were eliminated years ago offshore.” In addition, “a lot of outdated equipment is still being used” in onshore oil and gas drilling. “OSHA doesn’t have any regulations specific to oil and gas at all.”
OSHA is only required to investigate onshore oil and gas drilling site accidents involving a fatality or the hospitalization of at least three workers, the Chronicle reported. Of those Texas oil and gas-related accidents OSHA did investigate, it found safety violations in 78 percent.
“Authorities, whether state and/or federal, need to step in and implement increased safety standards and procedures in the onshore oil and gas drilling industry,” says Houston injury attorney Michael Callahan in response to the Chronicle’s report. “Our oilfield workers in Texas face dangerous working conditions on a daily basis and must be better protected.”
The Callahan Law Firm provides legal representation to oil and gas workers injured on the job and to the families of those workers killed in oilfield-related accidents. If you or a loved one suffered a serious injury working on a drilling rig or in the oil and gas industry, contact our firm now to discuss your legal options.