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New Year?s Resolution: reduce workplace fatalities

In the beginning of a new year, people tend to look back on the year before and resolve to do things differently moving forward. They often think about what happened, what caused certain events and what should be changed to make the new year even better.

The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health took a look back on the number of fatal accidents in the gas and oil industry in the previous years. Why the heightened awareness around this industry’s fatalities? According to statistics, the number of fatalities across the country in 2012 was the highest it’s been in the past two decades for the oil and gas industry.

In the past, NIOSH has worked with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration to encourage employers to educate workers on safety risks in the workplace. It may be difficult for workers to find the time outside of their normal work day to have conversations about safety. But when fatality rates and even injury rates are increasing, discussing safety concerns can protect a worker.

So where are oil and gas industry workers at a greater risk of injury or death? In the past, transportation accidents have been the cause of many of the fatalities. NIOSH speculates that some of the causes include:

  • Driver fatigue due to long days at work
  • Failure to wear a seatbelt
  • Unsafe gravel roads in more isolated worksites

Oil and gas industry employees also face injury in the job as well. There are the more commonly known accidents, such as a fall from an oil rig, that cause injury; then there are the injuries that result from less common accidents, such as being attacked by a muskrat.

As the industry continues to grow, the number of accidents and deaths could also continue to grow. Hopefully the oil and gas industry will use previous accidents to reduce the risk of injury to workers in the future.

Source: Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, “Oil and gas fatalities spike with boom,” Anya Litvak, Nov. 30, 2013.

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Eley Law Firm
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