Between 2008 and 2017, 1,566 workers were killed while drilling for oil and gas. With oil production in the United States reaching a new peak, analysts fear that the deaths will increase. Today, officials are scrambling to maintain a high level of safety as drilling companies across the nation rapidly expand their operations.
In Texas, the oil industry has created nearly 2,500 jobs since the beginning of 2018. With an increase in production, the industry is employing 50,000 more workers on drilling rigs than it did a decade ago. While economic growth is a benefit for the men and women working on Texas oil rigs, industry leaders must find a way to protect them. In a statement to the Washington Post, industry analyst Frank Parker said, “They [oilfield workers] get up in the morning and eat nails for breakfast. We need those people to do that kind of work. We’ve just got to find a way not to kill them.”
Who Protects Workers?
The Washington Post reports that 552 incidents in the oil and gas industry have been investigated between 2008 and 2017. Penalties given during these investigations averaged $16,813 and were often reduced by about 30 percent. These investigations occurred before the oil boom took off in 2018.
Today, OSHA representatives state that crackdowns are in process across five major regions of the country. However, the crackdown on the nation’s most productive oil regions ended last October. Exploration and drilling operations are not covered by the same OSHA rules that govern other industrial sectors. Oilfield operations are exempt from many of the requirements to prevent fires and explosions that govern many industrial sites in the United States.
In 2013, the Obama Administration attempted to update OSHA standards to include the drilling industry. The new rules were resisted by The International Association of Drilling Contractors, and the exemption was preserved. Though the IADC was not opposed to more regulation, the body was not accepting of the new rules proposed by the White House. So, the industry in which workers are nearly five times more likely to die remained exempt from much-needed safety reform.
What Happens When Regulations Fail?
OSHA can only enforce safety standards that the law allows it to. When regulations are not adequate, workers must rely on the companies that employ them to protect their safety. While maintaining a safe work environment is ultimately beneficial to a company’s bottom line, many operators cut corners to save money in the short term. Meanwhile, oilfield workers are forced to pay the ultimate price when a catastrophic accident happens.
When regulations are inadequate, the oilfield attorneys from Arnold & Itkin act as a voice for injured workers. Nothing can completely fix the harm caused by a well blowout or any other type of oilfield accident. However, our lawyers can fight to win the financial stability that clients deserve as they face the most difficult times of their lives. Justice is possible through the civil courts, and Arnold & Itkin is here to help that happen.
If you have been injured or if you have lost a loved one in an oilfield accident, contact the oilfield accident attorneys at Arnold & Itkin today at (888) 493-1629. Consultation is free, and you will be connected to a team that has won billions for clients.