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The darker side to Texas' oil and gas industry boom

The oil and gas industry is booming in Texas, which is good news for the economy but it comes at a high expense. As more workers are being hired for the grueling and dangerous jobs, more fatalities are resulting, experts say. In fact, the Bureau of Labor Statistics recently reported that 138 oil and gas workers were killed on the job last year in the United States, and nearly half of those deaths occurred in Texas.

According to the director of an oil and gas extraction program at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, industry fatalities often spike when new and inexperienced workers are brought on as a result of high demand. These workers are more likely to make mistakes, which can get themselves and their co-workers killed.

But safety officials also know that even veterans in the field can fall victim to drilling accidents, which often occur abruptly and seemingly out of nowhere. Additionally, the CDC program director said that some of the older rigs that have been out of commission for years are brought back when the industry is booming. This can result in safety issues as well.

For all of these reasons, safety officials say oil and gas companies need to place an even greater emphasis on safety instead of accepting that more work will likely lead to more accidents. To promote safety efforts, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration is reportedly imposing more frequent safety inspections.

"Stand downs," which are safety events that put a halt to all other work at the drilling sites, are also being conducted by OSHA and energy companies. A national stand down event is planned for November 14.

When oil and gas workers are injured or worse yet killed on the job, they and their family members often don't know where to turn for advice. An experienced personal injury lawyer can help provide the guidance and support the worker or the worker's family needs to pursue compensation and move forward.

Source: KUHF News, "Oilfield Worker Deaths Spike Along With Rise In Production," Andrew Schneider, Sept. 30, 2013

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