Every career path carries unique risks for the health and safety of workers following it. Some of those risks are more obvious and well-known than others.
In the oil and gas industry, many people would likely point to explosions and fires as major sources of risk to workers. This belief is partially due to the media attention that large fires and explosions often command.
While it is true that extracting, transporting, handling and refining fossil fuels can be dangerous tasks, fires or explosions resulting from oil and gas operations are not the biggest risks to workers. Instead, much of the workplace danger faced by those in the oil and gas industries will stem from the machinery and vehicles used as part of their job.
Transportation is a risk factor for oil and gas workers
Drilling sites, rigs and other facilities are often in remote and difficult-to-access places. Oil and gas workers may need to drive on to track roads that don’t have pavement or regular maintenance. Offroad travel is dangerous and can result in vehicle tip-overs and other accidents.
However, mainstream transportation on highways and interstates is even more dangerous. Those transporting oil and gas could get into a wreck while doing so. The risk of a crash is a notable one. Roughly four out of every 10 deaths in the oil and gas industry result from collisions or accidents on highways.
Oil and gas extraction equipment can cause injury or death
From drills to pumps, oil and gas workers may have to deal with large great, heavy machinery, which poses many different risks to workers. The potential exists for an accident to occur while working in proximity to heavy equipment. The machinery could malfunction, or someone could lose their balance and contact a machine in a way that results in injury.
Struck-by, caught-in and caught-between accidents are another leading cause of injury and death related to machinery and moving vehicles at oil and gas worksites. Finally, the risk of falling from machinery while installing or maintaining it also generates risk for workers in the oil and gas industries.
Workers who get hurt on the job, as well as family members who lose a loved one, may have the right to seek workers’ compensation benefits after a work-related accident.