Working in the oil and gas industry is no easy feat, especially for oilfield and rig workers. In addition to the work being physically demanding, the environment surrounding oilfield work is full of potential hazards that could inflict serious, life altering injuries and death to workers. Oil and gas workers trust their lives to the safety measures implemented by their employers. When safety regulations are blatantly ignored and heavy machinery and other workplace materials go without proper service and inspection, the odds of an oil and gas worker suffering a catastrophic accident greatly increase. Being able to identify potential hazards and understand the common causes of oilfield accidents, workers can better mind their surroundings and to call out unsafe jobsite practices.
Sadly, many issues of oil and gas worker safety are either overlooked or simply not taken seriously enough considering the nature of the industry. Like construction, energy industry work comes with a notorious reputation for occupational injury and accidents. While fatal workplace accident statistics clearly paint a picture of occupational dangers, there’s still no excuse for the lack of responsibility oil and gas companies take for = worker safety. According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), in just four short years – from 2013 to 2017 – a reported 489 oil and gas extraction workers were killed on the job.
Common Threats to Oil and Gas Worker Safety
Ongoing oil and gas worker injuries and deaths signify much needed and critical room for safety improvements. Oil and gas companies can directly affect workers’ safety and improve conditions by following both state law and federal OSHA guidelines. The following are some of the most common threats to oil and gas worker safety:
Vehicle Collisions. Oil and gas extraction and refining requires the use of vehicles to transport cargo, materials, and workers across Texas and beyond. Not only are vehicles heavily relied on for day-to-day operations, but workers must also often be transported between jobsites and travel accommodations. Because of their frequent use, work vehicles require routine maintenance and inspection, especially when hauling cargo loads. Vehicles with mechanical issues present dangers unknown to drivers until it is too late, causing roadway accidents. Additionally, frequent use of work vehicles should prompt oil and gas companies to rigorously train drivers in safety courses, as well as enforce rules requiring fatigued drivers resting and prohibit the operation of vehicle while intoxicated.
Faulty Equipment and Machinery. Just as heavily utilized motor vehicles require routine maintenance and inspection, so do equipment and heavy machinery. When equipment and machinery malfunctions, the consequences can be catastrophic. Workers rely on equipment and machines properly functioning so they can do their jobs safely. Additionally, machines should be outfitted with proper safeguards that provide a barrier between moving parts and workers.
Fires and Explosions. Due to the sensitive materials and hazardous chemicals frequently used in the various phases of oil and gas extraction and refinement, fires and explosions pose a great danger not only to oilfields, oil rigs, and refineries, but also to the surrounding areas. Chemicals and sensitive materials must be properly stored so they do not interact with each other or with other substances that could cause a powerful reaction.
Lack of Training. While mistakes and human error do happen, employees are not responsible for adequately training themselves for complicated energy industry work. Oil and gas companies should provide employees with quality training specific to not only in the scope of their jobs but also in safety. Training should be provided in a language that all employees understand; and, proper safety and warning signage must be placed throughout the workplace.
Rio Grande Valley Oilfield Injury Attorneys
Oil and gas worksite threats are responsible for hundreds of senseless and preventable worker deaths annually. Just because a person’s occupation is potentially dangerous does not mean they should suffer injury. If you or a loved one has been injured while working in the oil and gas industry, contact the Rio Grande Valley workplace accident attorneys of Ezequiel Reyna Law Office today to discuss your case at no cost. There is limited time to act following a work accident in Texas, so don’t delay.