The national fatality rate for gas and oil extraction workers is eight times higher than the average of all occupations. Oil accident related deaths are often gruesome. In 2007, at a drilling site in West Texas, a steel cable sliced an oil rig worker in half. Other workers have died when struck by hunks of metal sent flying when wells accidentally shot out gas and oil at high pressures.
Some of the most common causes of oil rig accidents are:
- Pressure from management to get the job done quickly
- Drilling operations that keep running no matter the weather conditions
- Inexperienced workers who aren’t trained well
- Older rigs that don’t have up-to-date safety features
Smaller drilling and well service companies were also found to have higher rates of deadly injuries. Safety expert Rick Ingram, who works for BP, said this is because smaller companies can’t afford health and safety programs and have fewer resources.
To help prevent these deaths, in 2004 the STEPS Network (South Texas Exploration and Production Safety) began work in South Texas where drilling deaths were on the rise in the Eagle Ford Shale. The challenge of the group was to change the mindset of an industry that prided itself on going after the oil and gas, regardless of the conditions.
STEPS is a way to get drilling companies of all sizes to meet monthly with OSHA, the federal safety agency. At meetings, participants do exercises such as imagining knowing that they would be killed that day in a rig accident and writing a letter to their loved one as if they were not ever coming home again.
OSHA said it is seeing results. They are hearing stories from the field about crews now refusing to take shortcuts, confident that management will stand behind them.
If you or a loved one was the victim of an oil or gas accident, the Law Office of W.T. Johnson is here to help you get the justice you deserve. Contact us today to set up your free consultation with our experienced personal injury lawyers.