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Declining rig counts don't necessarily mean better work safety

Logic might tend to dictate that if the numbers of jobs in a particular industry are on the decline that a similar drop can be expected in the number and/or severity of the workplace injuries. That isn't always the case. And those in the Texas petroleum industry might attest that it is particularly not typically the case in their field of work.

What often happens when production falls off and workers are let go is that those lucky to still be employed face greater pressures. They may be told or feel obliged to do more, faster, to get the most return out of a well, pipeline or refinery operation. Safety protocols might drop off the to-do lists. Where such negligence is apparent, serious injury can happen. Victims of unsafe work conditions have a right to hold responsible parties accountable.

The kind of pressure described above is something that might be being felt in petroleum production facilities across the country right now. That's because the count of active rigs pulling out oil and gas from the ground in the U.S. has been showing steep declines in recent months.

The one bright spot in the picture might be the prospect that the trend is slowing. According to an analysis reported by Market Realist, the number of active rigs hit 838 in the week ending Sept. 25. That's the lowest rig count number since January 2003.

Based on a four-week average ending Sept. 25, there were 10 rigs idled and that compares with an 11-rig average in the four-week period ending Sept. 18. That apparently is prompting the speculation that maybe the nosedive in rig activity is leveling off.

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