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Amid oil industry declines, pipeline workers could feel pressure

It's not news to anyone around the Houston area that the oil industry is taking a hit economically. Hundreds of thousands of jobs around the world have been lost this year. In Texas, more than 97,000 jobs have been reported lost since late last year and hundreds more are expected to be gone before the end of the year.

Leaders in the industry say a large number of those jobs are upstream -- which is a nice way of saying that they are largely administrative and headquarters type jobs. Indeed, as one CEO puts it, the numbers above don't even take into account the numbers of workers in the fields and along pipelines now out work. And he says the effects are being felt industry wide.

What does this mean for the workers that remain? Very likely the majority of them feel fortunate to still have jobs. But they also may be feeling under pressure to do more with less. That's because, as state officials record, petroleum production is running higher in the state than last year. The Railroad Commission of Texas says August production this year was nearly 8 percent higher than it was at the same time last year.

You don't have to be a rocket scientist to know that when resources -- whether they are material or human -- are tight and pressure remains high to deliver more, accidents are bound to happen. This puts an extra burden on workers and their employers to be even more diligent to make sure worksites are as safe as they can be.

If accidents do happen that result in serious or fatal injury, employers should be prepared to be held accountable. And if workers find they have to battle to obtain the benefits due them, contacting experienced legal counsel might be called for.

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