Oil Field Accidents in Texas

Dangerous accidents are a risk for oil field workers in Texas

Understand the risks and how workplace accidents can be prevented

Oil field and plant and refinery accidents in the Texas oil industry account for many serious injuries and deaths every year. In fact, drilling for petroleum is one of the most dangerous jobs in the world, with risks at practically every stage of the process.

Texas is one of the leading states in oil and gas drilling, and the industry provides thousands of job opportunities for the state. However, increased job opportunities means more employees at risk.

Statistics related to oil field accidents in Texas

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) reports that more than 4,000 oil field workers are injured, and more than 100 workers are killed, annually on the job.

The United States Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that 663 workers were killed in oil field jobs between 2007 and 2012. The Houston Chronicle (subscription may be required) analyzed this data and found that Texas alone accounted for approximately 40% of these fatalities.

The newspaper found that 675 individuals suffered fractures, 92 workers suffered burns, 82 workers were crushed and 79 workers suffered from amputations in 2012 alone.

The U. S. Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board describes onshore oil fields as one of the most dangerous workplaces in America.

Nationally, between 2003-2010, 823 people died on oil and gas extraction sites, according to OSHA. This represented seven times the rate of fatalities for all U.S. industries.

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Problems with oversight

The Houston Chronicle's report cited problems involving proper oversight by the federal government, including OSHA, which the newspaper described as failing to implement proper safety standards and procedures, and not conducting an adequate number of inspections.

OSHA has only 95 inspectors to oversee safety rules, and to investigate accidents, throughout all Texas job sites. Additionally, drilling and well service industry lobbyists have continuously opposed reforms to onshore operations, the Chronicle reports.

OSHA has only 95 inspectors to oversee safety and investigate accidents in Texas. Tweet this

The newspaper also reported that poor practices by oil and gas companies led to the injury and death of many oilfield workers.

Causes of oil field accidents in Texas

Realizing why accidents occur and identifying potential risks can help prevent disaster. Some of the most common reasons for oil field accidents in Texas are:

Explosions and fires

Unfortunately, explosions on oil fields are not uncommon due to the prevalence of flammable materials on site.

Vapors released from the drilling process accumulate over time and can seep into storage containers. Eventually, pressure rises to a point where the containers can no longer hold, causing an explosion in the wake.

In other cases, explosions are caused when sparks fly off equipment and come in contact with combustible materials.

The National Fire Protection Association reports that in 2013 the oil and gas industry was responsible for 10% of all workplace fatalities from fires and explosions, despite employing less than 1% of the total workforce.

Defective products and equipment malfunctions

Another common cause for oil field accidents is defective products or equipment malfunctions. Workers may work with heavy machinery or equipment that is old or not properly maintained.

Inadequate training

The potential to be injured in an accident is greater when an employee is new to the company or does not have training in the profession.

As the drilling industry continues to expand, there are more new and inexperienced workers who are hired and who can pose a risk to others.

Injuries from oil field accidents in Texas

There are a variety of injuries that workers can sustain in oil field accidents:

Although stringent regulations have been developed to help minimize the possibility of serious injury or death, some companies continue to take shortcuts with safety measures to save time or money.

These tactics often compromise the safety of a work environment.

Ways to prevent oil field accidents

Fortunately, there are a number of ways that these accidents and injuries can be prevented. Employers should make sure the following safety guards are in place:

  • Safety equipment, including eye masks, helmets, boots and gloves.
  • Self-contained respiratory tools to guard against chemical exposure.
  • Anti-pressure devices to prevent explosions.
  • Ensuring that all tools and other items are safely stowed away to prevent unnecessary falls.
  • Machines should be regularly inspected, maintained and replaced when they pose a danger.
  • Provide proper training for all workers, including education on the dangers and prevention techniques.
  • Report any accidents immediately to appropriate state and federal agencies.

Legal assistance

Individuals who have been injured in an oil field accident in Texas may be able to seek recovery for their injuries through either workers' compensation or through a lawsuit against their employer. Read our legal overview on Texas oil industry accidents and laws to learn more about your right to recovery.

Many accidents are the result of negligence of an employer or third party. If you or a loved one has been injured in a Texas oil field accident, you may have grounds to pursue legal action against the responsible party.

Many accidents are the result of negligence of an employer or third party. Tweet this

Personal injury claims for oil field accidents while employed in Texas

If the injuries you received were due to your employer's failure to follow OSHA regulations, you might be able to receive a significant settlement value.

If you can establish that you have been injured due to negligence, Texas law allows you to be compensated for the following.

  • Medical bills – future and past – for treating your injuries.
  • Any expenses related to your injuries that were paid out of pocket (keep good records of all expenses).
  • Wages that you have lost, as well as wages you may lose in the future due to your injuries and medical treatments/appointments.
  • Past and future pain and suffering.

Note that Texas law features the concept of proportionate responsibility. This means if your responsibility for the accident is determined to be more than 50%, you cannot recover damages.

As an employee in the Texas oil and gas industry it is important to understand your rights and responsibilities. Not only to address your own potential accident case, but to help prevent a future workplace accident by knowing what problems to look for and how to report unsafe working conditions.

Know your rights

The law requires employers to provide their employees with safe and healthful workplaces. OSHA also prohibits employers from retaliating against employees for exercising their rights under the law. For more information see www.whistleblowers.gov for more information on workers' rights.

If you have questions or concerns about your work site, find your regional or area OSHA office through the OSHA Offices by State webpage or call 1-800-321-OSHA (6742).

Workers can file a complaint with OSHA by calling 1-800-321-OSHA (6742), online via eComplaint Form, or by printing the complaint form and mailing or faxing it to the local OSHA area office.

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