Montgomery & Bucks County Workers' Compensation Law Blog

Friday, May 2, 2014

Oil boom increases number of oil field deaths

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the number of work-related deaths among oilfield workers has significantly increased over the last several years. Specifically, a total of 545 oilfield workers died between 2008 and 2012 when the fracking boom was occurring.

Fracking, as many readers know, is the name for the process by which natural gas is extracted from shale deposits. The industry is big here in Pennsylvania, with the Marcellus shale being a major site for fracking in the state. In Pennsylvania, the number of oil field deaths increased 300 percent from the five year period prior to 2008-2012. 

The new data regarding oil field deaths is not that surprising--it has been known for a long time that oil field work is an occupation fraught with risks. Risks have increased, though, as activity in the industry has increased. One potential reason for the increased deaths is the lack of proper training for workers.

Federal regulators have sought to have safety rules strengthened for on-land drilling sites. Although strict safety rules are already applied at refineries and chemical plants, there has been a good deal of resistance in the industry to increase safety regulations.

Providing for the safety of workers is not something employers like to think about  because most of the time it means increasing overhead costs. Ensuring that workers are properly trained and that risks are reduced is beneficial to both workers and companies. Companies who fail to maintain a safe workplace and train workers properly can and should be held accountable.

Those who suffer harm at the hands of such an employer should contact an experienced workers' compensation and personal injury attorney to determine the best avenue for recovery. 

Source:, "Oil field deaths rise sharply," Lise Olsen, April 29, 2014. 

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