Worker deaths in oil and gas industry at all time high

According to a new report out from the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, fatalities in the oil and gas industry are the highest they have been since the U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics began keeping track in 1992. Some highlights from the article:

  • Although it's not the most deadly industry, the fatality rate in the oil and gas industry is between five and seven times higher than the overall private sector average.
  • Non-fatal injuries in the oil and gas industry are lower than average, meaning that if there is an injury it is more likely to be fatal.
  • Forty percent of oil and gas industry fatalities are the result of transportation accidents (about half of those workers were not wearing seat belts). As I've previously blogged, a loophole in highway safety rules allows truck drivers in the oil and gas industry to work longer hours than drivers in most other industries. According to an article in The New York Times, some drivers are pressured to drive more than 20 hours in one shift.
  • There has been an increase in injuries from falls from height, fires and explosions.

Many of these workplace incidents--like traffic accidents and explosions--also put nearby community residents at risk. In just one tragic collision, two young children were killed when a fracking truck demolished their car earlier this year in West Virginia. We need stronger rules to rein in the oil and gas industry, and the companies themselves need to make environmental protection and safety a top priority.