The residents of the north Texas town of Milford are only the latest Texans to fall victim to a drilling accident. On November 14th, about 700 residents of the rural north Texas town were evacuated after a Chevron gas pipeline exploded at a drill rig. Though details and an investigation are still pending, incidents similar to this one are the reasons why the occupational fatality rate in the oil and gas industry is seven times higher than the rate of all US workers.
HBJ reported that Texas has almost 380,000 oil and gas jobs throughout the state and the use of hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, has created a new energy boom in Texas that began in 2010 and is expected to continue well through 2015. The Dallas Morning News reported that Texas has increased its oil production from 1.14 million barrels a day in 2010 to 2.57 million a day in June 2013. Such large increases in the production and demand for oil and natural gas has led to situations in which many employees are less experienced, are working longer hours, and using outdated equipment.
As reported by the Houston Business Journal, there were 138 deaths in the oil and gas industry in 2012, and almost half of those deaths occurred in Texas. But the exact number of on-the-job injuries are hard to estimate because companies will often attempt to keep from being reported to worker’s compensation or others. Many times workers are pressured into signing confidentiality agreements and releases without knowing what their rights are.