Scientists from the Denver Office of the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health will begin a new study of the oil and gas industry in three states beginning next year. The team will be distributing questionnaires to 500 workers in Texas, North Dakota, and one other state that has not yet been named. The study aims to gain insight into the types of conditions that oil and gas workers face each day and is projected to last three years.
Between 2005 and 2009, oil field work has been responsible for a rate of fatalities that is 2.5 times higher than the construction industry and seven times higher than all other areas of general industry, making it one of the most dangerous jobs in the country.
To learn more about what makes the job so dangerous and how to improve safety measures in the future, researchers will be posing some of the following questions to workers participating in the study:
- What types of injuries have you suffered on the job?
- What were you doing when you were injured?
- What kind of training have you had?
- Are there any employer policies that involve use of safety belts or cell phones?
- Does your employer offer bonuses if you do not report any accidents or injuries?
Oil field workers face a number of dangers each day, particularly the threat of explosions, exposure to toxic hydrocarbon chemicals, and driving hazards. In addition, employees often work “outrageous hours in hostile climatic conditions” and in and around dangerous equipment. Just this past March, a West Texas oil company was fined $50,000 after an explosion killed three workers. The three men were not provided with personal protective equipment, nor were there any precautions taken to prevent an ignition source and flammable gases from making contact.
Critics are concerned that there is not enough oversight of the industry. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) does not perform regular inspections of oil and gas worksites, but rather only gets involved when responding to a worker complaint or fatality. According to federal statistics, between 2005 and 2013, there were 20 fatalities in Colorado gas and oil fields alone.
The oil industry is fully cooperating with the study and will grant researchers access to worksites to conduct their surveys.
For more information on the gas and oil industry, or to discuss your legal needs as a Colorado landowner or leaseholder, please contact an oil and gas lawyer at Feldman Nagel, LLC: (888) 458-0991.