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More Than 200 Lives Lost To Texas Oil And Gas Boom

According the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, 663 oil and gas workers have been killed in work-related accidents during the boom years of 2007-2012. It’s estimated that just under half of those fatal oil and gas accidents (40 percent) occurred here in Texas. In total, there have been close to 18,000 reports of injury and illness related to oil and gas exploration, extraction and production in Texas since 2007.

Among the most common injuries reported by oil and gas workers are:

  • Amputations or lost limbs
  • Crush injuries
  • Burns
  • Broken bones

A lack of safety standards and oversight are at least partially to blame for these serious oil and gas incidents.

An investigation into the deadly oil and gas industry by the Houston Chronicle revealed that safety standards for on-shore drilling have a long way to go before they catch up to those for offshore drilling. Keep in mind, offshore drilling safety standards did not stop the Deepwater Horizon oil spill and resulting serious and fatal injuries.

According to the report by the Chronicle, OSHA is not required to investigate oil-field accidents unless someone is killed or at least three people are seriously injured. That means a majority of the incidents fall through the cracks in government inspection requirements, leaving companies to provide their own risk management programs and implement safety changes as needed.
Little oversight also means little incentive – or enforcement action – for oil companies to comply with existing safety guidelines that would mandate replacing aging machinery on the rigs and derricks that pepper the Texas landscape. In workplace incidents that were investigated by OSHA, nearly 3 in every 4 incidents involved violations of existing safety regulations.

Source: The Houston Chronicle, “Houston Chronicle exclusive: Drilling boom, deadly legacy,” February 22, 2014

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