Law Office of Michael R. De La Paz

How dangerous is the oil and gas industry?

The short answer to the above question is “very,” whether you work in Texas’ oil and gas industry or anywhere else across the nation. In fact, as reported by E&E News, the rate of severe injuries in the upstream oil and gas industry is one of the highest in the country. Depending on the way in which different agencies collect data and whose figures you believe, oil and gas is the industry most likely to see its workers suffer such injuries and/or die from them.

While the industry’s own data touts the fact that its overall injury rate is well below the national average, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s data tells a much different story. It says that your risk of suffering a fatal injury is highest if you work for a company that supports oil and gas such as a general contractor who builds, drills, fracks or cements oil wells.

Severe injuries defined

Beginning in 2015, OSHA defines a “severe injury” as one resulting in hospitalization or the loss of a body part. Between Jan. 1, 2015, and Oct. 31, 2016, the upstream oil and gas industry reported 503 such injuries to OSHA. However, this figure likely represents a significant undercount of the true number of serious injuries because it fails to include data from the 21 states, including such big oil states as California and Wyoming, that report their severe injuries to a state agency rather than to OSHA.

Types of severe injuries

While your overall risk of receiving a severe injury is exceedingly high if you work in the oil and gas industry, the types of injuries for which you have the highest risk include, in their order of likelihood, the following:

  1. Caught-in-equipment accidents resulting in amputation, especially of your fingers
  2. Falls resulting in head, neck, back and other injuries
  3. Struck-by-objects events resulting in bone fractures
  4. Fires and explosions resulting in major burns

This is educational information only and not intended to provide legal advice.

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