Statistics Indicate As Many As 40% Of All Oilfield Injuries Occur In Texas – What You Need To Know
By TLB Contributing Author: Frank
New statistics indicate that up to 40% of all oilfield injuries occur in the state of Texas. Currently, over 660 workers were injured in the oilfield industry according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, 40% of whom were from Texas oilfields between 2007 and 2012. The government started tracking oilfield accidents when they began to increase due to the fracking boom of late 2007. What the report also indicated was that the government failed to keep track of or initiate the proper safety standards and protocols due to rapid growth in the fracking industry.
It isn’t just that the procedures and protocol weren’t followed or regulated when investigated. It was also found that many gas and oil companies had very few inspections — if any — and even fewer citations issued when rules and safety procedures were not being followed. That led to numerous oilfield injuries and deaths. In 2012 alone, it is estimated that 79 workers lost limbs, 82 died from being crushed by heavy machinery, 92 oilfield workers suffered burns, and 65 workers lost their lives. That was up almost 60% from the year before. The investigation into Texas oilfields uncovered that the industry was basically a free-for-all without anyone protecting the workers.
It isn’t that there aren’t already OSHA rules and regulations to help protect those who work in oilfields across the nation — it is that no one seems to be enforcing them in Texas. There are allegations that the federal government has consistently failed to keep tabs on Texas oilfields for two decades and failed to ensure that any safety implementation was being upheld for gas and onshore oil drilling. It is those lax rules that led to the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico that wrought havoc on marine life and the environment. It also led to 11 workers being killed and the leak of millions of gallons of oil into the ocean.
After the Deepwater debacle, it appears that more inspectors were trained and sent to inspect Texas’s oilfield industry and that safety rules were supposedly tightened to ensure that a spill would not happen again. The problem is that the other deaths happened one at a time and they occurred without anyone knowing or paying attention. One death that could be prevented is one death too many.
The offshore drilling industry is much safer than onshore due to the tightening of regulations, but the onshore drilling industry was left out. Many things that are not allowed offshore and which have been eliminated due to safety regulations are still standard in the onshore drilling industry. The onshore industry still uses outdated machinery that has long since been replaced in offshore operations, but OSHA has failed to update onshore machinery, which puts oilfield workers in serious danger of being harmed or killed.
OSHA insists that they care greatly about oilfield worker safety and that they strictly adhere to the guidelines that were developed in 1992 after a rash of disasters in chemical plants and refineries. The problem is that 1992 was a very long time ago and many deaths have happened since. There should obviously be a push in the industry to update protocols, advance technology, and make workers’ safety a number one priority.
There are only 95 OSHA inspectors who oversee all the oilfield operations in Texas; few of them have any experience or the proper training to be working in the field, which is probably contributing to the high ratio of accidents in Texas versus other areas. If OSHA does find that a drilling rig is not following safety standards, they do not have the authority to shut it down — even if they find life-threatening conditions.
OSHA also claims that there are times when they can’t even locate the drilling rigs that they are watching over because of the way that the rigs move around, which is a huge problem. That means that many are avoiding any safety protocols because they aren’t being found. With the alarming rate of injuries and deaths happening in Texas, it would make sense that an overhaul of onshore drilling is needed. However, it is going to take a lot more resources than OSHA currently has available to keep workers in Texas safe. If you are injured in an oilfield accident, consult an oilfield accident lawyer Houston, immediately to ensure that you are protected and receive fair compensation for your injuries.
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