Helicopter Crashes Biggest Risk in Oil Industry: Oil Industry Serving Helicopters Leading Cause of Worker Deaths
We already know that oil and gas work is risky. The fatality rate for the industry is 37.1 per 100,000; a rate seven times higher than the 3.8 per 100,000 for all U.S. workers. But what may be surprising is that the biggest threat oil and gas workers face isn’t fire and explosion. According to a new Center for Disease Control (CDC) report released April 26, the leading cause of fatalities for oil and gas workers is now death by helicopter.
According to the data in the report, which comes from the Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries for the period 2003-2010, helicopter crashes caused 75 percent of all transportation related deaths for oil and gas workers, and that such “transportation events” made up 51 percent of all fatalities. In all, during that period, there were 17 accidents involving helicopters, with all coming as a part of offshore operations in the Gulf of Mexico. Of those 17, eleven resulted in fatalities, with five resulting in nine fatalities in which workers survived the crash, but ended up drowning before they could be rescued. Bad weather was at least a contributing factor in three of the accidents.
The USA Today wrote an article on these findings and reported that while Deepwater Horizon type catastrophes such as the one in 2010 get all the headlines, most work related deaths in the oil and gas industry revolve around transportation accidents. Helicopter crashes, especially, are very serious risks for oil and gas industry workers. Transportation accidents were responsible for over 50% of deaths in the oil and gas extraction industry over a seven year period. Of those deaths, 75% were related to helicopter crashes.
While the study noted that offshore drilling activity was up 63 percent, while the number of fatalities remained stable, it also suggested that the ratio of accidents to worker is on the rise. They suggested that employers could easily reduce the numbers drastically by simply taking worker safety more seriously and following the most stringent guidelines available, including not flying in bad weather conditions.
As the oil and gas boom continues and oil companies increase their usage of helicopters to transport workers to platforms, workers may be at increased risk if companies try to cut costs or fail to provide proper oversight and maintenance of helicopters. When a company or a helicopter pilot fails to do everything possible to keep everyone safe, tragedy can occur. If you have been injured or lost a loved one in an oil company helicopter crash, contact the proven Texas Oil Company Helicopter Accident Injury Lawyers at Hill Law Firm today.