The state of Texas saw 531 workplace fatalities in 2012, according to preliminary data from the U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor of Statistics (BLS). That number is more than 20 percent higher than in 2011, it’s the highest recorded in almost ten years, and it reverses a two-year trend of reduced fatalities. Texas is one of only 16 states that saw an increase in worker deaths last year, and it is now the deadliest state for workers in the nation.
As bad as that number is, the oil and gas boom is likely to make the situation worse, if national figures are any indication. The number of oil and gas industry fatalities nationally rose to 138 last year, a 23 percent increase over 2011. That number also represents the highest number of fatalities since at least 2003, and it represents a fatality rate of 24.2 deaths per 100,000 workers in the oil and gas industry, which is nearly eight times higher than the rate of 3.2 deaths per 100,000 workers across all industries.
That doesn’t bode well for worker safety in the future, unless someone gets a handle on it. Oil and gas sector jobs are among the fastest growing in the country, and with a spike in the number of workers comes the potential for a spike in the number of worker injuries and fatalities. Since Texas is one of the states experiencing the largest energy boom, the number is not likely to drop soon.
Because of this, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has been undertaking a crackdown all year, in the form of safety sweeps and stand-downs at oil and gas drilling and fracking sites, to make sure they’ve complied with all worker safety laws and regulations. But OSHA acknowledges that they can only do so much, and employers have to work harder to keep workers safe.
The oil and gas boom in Texas brings a lot of benefits, but it also brings with it a potential increase in worker fatalities, as more Texans work in the inherently dangerous industry. The increase in such jobs in the state, combined with the Texas government’s lack of willingness to regulate worker safety, has led to disastrous consequences. If you or someone you love have been injured on the job in the oil and gas industry or any other, contact the Texas Workplace Safety Lawyers at Hill Law Firm today to discuss how you can protect your legal rights.