The Niobrara Shale is just one of the many natural gas repositories that have brought a new wave of extraction work to Colorado.
The extraction method, called "hydraulic fracturing" or "fracking," involves pumping a mix of pressurized water, sand and chemicals into wells to create fractures from which gas can be extracted. The process allows for the extraction of gas that could not previously be reached. However, just as with older methods of oil and gas extraction, it comes with significant risks of workplace injuries.
Last week, workers at a Niobrara Shale site in eastern Wyoming were finally able to cap a blowout that had been erupting for three days. The blowout forced drilling mud and explosive methane gas from the well, putting both workers and residents at risk.
Thankfully, no one was injured. However, the blowout could have led to dangerous or deadly fires and explosions.
Colorado Fracking Injuries
Colorado oil and gas workers who are injured in extraction accidents are eligible to receive Colorado workers' compensation benefits.
Injuries from explosions and blowouts aren't the only risks that fracking workers face. These workers routinely encounter a variety of risks, including:
- Injuries or occupational disease from exposure to toxic chemicals
- Repetitive stress injuries from manual labor
- Back problems resulting from lifting injuries
- Injuries from heavy machinery and sharp implements
- Motor vehicle accidents
Since fracking is a still a relatively new technology, even seasoned extraction workers should approach each day with an eye toward safety.
Source: 7 News, "Company Plugs Blown Wyoming Oil Well Leaking Explosive Gas," Wayne Harrison, April 27, 2012.