Texas oil workers put in a lot of hours on the job, and while they may avoid any number of serious workplace accidents, the long hours may still cause problems for some workers away from the oil field. Extended work periods cause fatigue, and tired workers can be at great risk of suffering a debilitating or even deadly automobile crash.
According to Safety and Health magazine, oil and gas workers experience fatigue because of both long work shifts and extended drives. Many oil well sites reside in distant areas. To get to these locations requires a long drive from a home, a lodging location or an equipment yard. Some drives may last for hours, and work shifts last even longer.
The compounding effect of drives to get to work as well as long work shifts can result in a lot of fatigue when the worker needs to return home or to a place of lodging. This can put a worker in a dangerous position. The worker will likely experience drowsiness while on the road. Drowsy driving can dull concentration and cause drivers not to see physical obstacles or react to events in time until it is too late.
Fatigue can even cause drivers to fall asleep at the wheel. The Safety and Health article cites one instance where an oil and gas worker lost consciousness while driving. The vehicle swerved off the road and rolled a few times. The rolling force ejected the driver and two other workers who were riding in the truck. None of them were wearing seat belts, and two of them died.
NIOSH cautions that certain health conditions may also result in fatigued driving. An oil worker who suffers from an illness or a disease might lose energy more quickly. The monotonous nature of driving long hours can also dull the attentiveness of a driver. Medicine may also cause a driver to lose interest or to feel drowsy.
Deadly crashes are the leading cause of oil and gas worker fatalities. To prevent a fatal crash from occurring, oil workers should sleep for as much as seven to nine hours each day. Workers who hit the road should utilize rest locations when they are available, and in the event fatigue starts to hit, pull over to rest. Workers may take small, emergency naps to refresh themselves. Although some workers may turn to coffee or loud music to stay awake, these are no substitutes for getting the proper rest.