More than 350,000 workplace fatalities and more than 270 million workplace injuries occur annually worldwide. Efforts by the United States government to ensure workplace health and safety were minimal until President Richard Nixon signed the Occupational Safety and Health Act into law on December 29, 1970. The Act created the three agencies that administer it which are the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, and the Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission. Its main goal is to ensure that employers provide employees with an environment free from recognized hazards, such as exposure to toxic chemicals, excessive noise levels, mechanical dangers, heat or cold stress, or unsanitary conditions.
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.
For almost 25 years, the law protected injured workers by allowing them to pursue an action against workers' compensation insurance carriers when they act in "bad faith" during the handling of workers' compensation claims. That protection no longer exists for those who are most vulnerable: workers whose ability to earn a living has been interrupted by an occupational injury.