As oil industry enters recovery, workplace safety concerns return

As the Texas oil and gas industry rebounds, concerns are growing that accidents will also increase.

After one of the worst downturns in recent times, the Texas oil and gas industry is expected to continue on the road to recovery in 2017. That recovery is good for jobs and the economy, but it is not so good for workplace safety. As oil and gas operations continue to expand in Texas, it is likely that workplace accidents will likewise increase. Recent years have shown just how deadly working in the Texas oil and gas industries can be and why the recent recovery in the industry has some safety experts worried.

Industry on the upswing

As the Longview News-Journal reports, during the first quarter of 2017 rig counts in the state were up by 40 percent compared to the first quarter of 2016. Additionally, jobs in the oil and gas sector have increased by 9,000 since the beginning of last year. While production is still far short of its 2014 peak, growth is expected to continue through 2017.

Of course, that is good news for workers who lost their jobs or took significant pay cuts during the recent downturn. But it also means fatalities and injuries in the oil and gas sector will likely increase as operations and the number of people in the industry rise. That's troubling news given the poor safety record of the industry in recent years.

Texas has half of all oil-related deaths

As the San Antonio Express-News reports, in 2014 there were 142 workers killed in the oil and gas industry nationwide and half of those, 71, occurred in Texas. Furthermore, in the five-year period covering 2010 to 2014, there were 270 oil and gas worker deaths in Texas, which was 44 percent of the nationwide total of 615. Among the leading causes of death in the industry are being struck by heavy equipment, falls, electrocution, fires, and traffic accidents.

With the industry now on the rebound, safety concerns are growing. One concern is that the recent downturn meant that workers specialized in oil field safety were among those being laid off. Additionally, with many new and young workers now entering the industry for the first time, their lack of experience is going to create new opportunities for accidents to happen.

Hurt in an oil field accident?

Oil and gas workers routinely face some of the most dangerous working conditions in the world. While some accidents may be unavoidable, many could have been prevented if simple safety measures had been put in place beforehand. Any oil and gas worker who has been hurt on the job should get in touch with a personal injury attorney who is experienced in handling cases related to oil field accidents. That attorney can help injured workers understand what rights they have and assist them with pursuing any compensation they may be entitled to.