According to an annual report recently released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (“BLS”), fatalities in the oil and gas industry increased by 23% in 2012. The total number of workers killed in this industry reached a new high in 2012 even though general worker accident rates actually decreased in 2012. The BLS reported an oil and gas fatality rate of 24.2 deaths per 100,000 workers. That’s higher than the 21.2 reported by the notoriously dangerous agriculture, forestry, fishing and hunting sector. The oil and gas fatality rate is a startling 7.6 times higher than the all-industry rate of 3.2 deaths per 100,000 workers.
“[T]o me, these aren’t just numbers and data — they are fathers and mothers, brothers and sisters, who will never come home again,” Labor Secretary Thomas Perez said in a statement. Perez went on to state that the increased fatality rates are unacceptable and that “employers must take job hazards seriously and live up to their legal and moral obligation to send their workers home safe every single day. The Labor Department is committed to preventing these needless deaths, and we will continue to engage with employers to make sure that these fatality numbers go down further.”
Julia Bell, a spokeswoman for the Independent Petroleum Association of America, said the dramatic increase in oil and gas fatalities may be due to rapid growth within the industry. She cited a report published earlier this month by the Energy Information Administration that found energy jobs were growing faster than the entire U.S. private sector; oil and gas jobs rose by 162,000 between 2007 and 2012, a 40% increase, compared to a 1 percent increase in total private sector employment. “When industries expand rapidly, there are, tragically, incidents that also occur,” she said.
AFL-CIO Safety and Health Director Peg Seminario called for a critical examination of the oil and gas industry focusing on its specific hazards and problems. She recommended an investigation to find out whether certain employers and contractors are putting their workers in perilous situations.
The Labor Department’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration has organized a “stand down” event with oil and gas employers, scheduled for Nov. 14th. A “stand down” is a voluntary, coordinated pause in the workday to discuss and address workplace safety issues.
If you have been injured, or a loved one has been killed or injured, in an oil and gas industry accident, you may be entitled to compensation. Our law firm has years of experience handling work-related personal injury and wrongful death cases. Our name partners Michael Heygood, Jim Orr, and Eric Pearson are all board certified in personal injury trial law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization, all have significant trial experience and have all been named as Texas Super Lawyers by their peers for a number of years.*
For a free legal consultation and to find out if you are eligible to file a personal injury or wrongful death lawsuit, contact the attorneys at Heygood, Orr & Pearson by calling toll-free at 1-877-446-9001. You can also reach us by filling out the brief consultation form located at the top of this page.
* Michael Heygood, James Craig Orr, Jr. and Eric Pearson were selected to the Super Lawyers List, a Thomson Reuters publication, for the years 2003 through 2013.