Texas crude oil production had hit 2.9 million barrels per day in July of 2013, roughly equal to Brazil’s daily production this past year. The boom caused a large influx of workers, resulting in more work-related accidents. Between 2010 and 2014, nearly half of the nations’ oil field deaths were in Texas. Most of the fatalities occurred at Eagle Ford Shale in La Salle County. There have been eight reported deaths, including three workers in a single explosion last year. There is speculation that Texas fatality numbers are higher than reported. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) currently has investigations open regarding hazardous incidents, but their findings are not available to the public yet. OHSA often levies citations and fines to companies that fail to follow regulations that could create a hazardous work environment.
In 1991, Congress set the cap for serious violations fines at $7,000 and for willful and knowing violations at $70,000. Regardless of the large upsurge in profits, fine amounts have not increased, making them irrelevant to larger companies with annual billion dollar revenues. In spite of this, companies often contest the fines to a reduced amount resulting in lower payments to the victim’s family.
The decline in the need for oil in the past few years has resulted in thousands of people without a job, yet despite this, fatalities are still up 42% from last year. While accidents and injuries are lessened, work place deaths are still on the rise.