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Fatal motor vehicle accident rates higher for oil field workers

Denver residents may be interested to learn that oil field workers have an inordinately high number of fatalities due to motor vehicle accidents. Oil and gas workers are 8.5 times more likely to die in a motor vehicle accident while on the job than workers in other industries, and the numbers are highest in small companies, particularly those with fewer than 20 employees.

Some of the reasons attributed to these facts are that workers in the industry are typically young men who work long hours and drive pickup trucks on rural highways. Younger men may not have as conservative of driving habits, and the long hours they work are apt to leave them fatigued, affecting their concentration behind the wheel. Add to that the fact that those who drive on rural roads and highways have shown to be less apt to wear seatbelts, and the situation becomes even more dangerous. Motor vehicle accidents accounted for 28 percent of all work-related deaths among workers in the industry in a six-year span during the last decade, making it the leading cause of on-the-job deaths.

The only industries with higher vehicle-related fatality rates are the transportation industry and warehousing.

Of all vehicle accident fatalities among oil and gas workers, about 56 percent involved only one vehicle, and in about half the cases seat belts were not worn at the time of the accident, often resulting in the victim being thrown from the vehicle. Using lap and shoulder seat belts can reduce the risk of potential of fatal injury in light trucks by 60 percent.

One researcher looking at the problem suggests the government and industry work together and increase safety training programs and other tools available, particularly to smaller companies which have a higher number of fatal accidents due to their lack of safety and training programs.

Source: Fuel Fix, "Oilfield workers at higher risk of fatal motor vehicle accidents," Jeannie Kever, Jan. 18, 2013

Stop by our Denver no-fault work injury page to find out more about the Colorado workers' compensation program.

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Eley Law Firm
2000 S. Colorado Blvd. No. 2-740
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