What No One Tells You About Oilfield Fatalities
An oil rig is arguably one of the world’s most dangerous places to work, even in the best of circumstances. Falls and crush injuries account for most oilfield fatalities, but the danger doesn’t stop when a worker is off site. Some of the deadliest incidents happen far from the oil rig itself.
Off-Site Vehicle Accidents
- Oilfield workers are eight times more likely to be involved in a fatal vehicle accident while on the job, a disproportion number of these wrecks happening to employees of well-servicing companies. Because of the sheer number of drilling rigs in Texas, fully one-third of the nation’s oilfield fatalities occur here.
- Data drawn from the Bureau of Labor and Statistics indicate that fatal vehicle accidents account for 28 percent of all oilfield fatalities, making it the leading cause of death in the industry.
- More than half of these deadly accidents happen in a pickup truck, which doesn’t require drivers to receive any special training before driving one.
- Over 50 percent of vehicle accident-related oilfield fatalities were single-vehicle accidents, suggesting that worker fatigue could be a contributing factor — or the fact that many oilfield workers tend to be younger and more likely to take risks.
- The driver’s failure to use a seatbelt was listed as a contributing factor in most of these deaths. Had they been clicked in place, more than 60 percent of the fatalities could have been avoided.
- Companies with fewer than 20 employees — and less likely to dedicate adequate time and money toward safety training — had the highest incidence of vehicular oilfield fatalities.
- As experienced workers retire, younger and less experienced workers take their place. Combine this inexperience with companies more interested in the bottom line than spending extra time and money on safety training, and oilfield fatalities spike.