oilfield injuries

Oil Field Deaths and Injuries Rise Sharply

Deaths among those working the nation’s oil and gas fields have risen at an alarming rate, the Associated Press has found.

At least 598 workers died on the job between 2002 and 2007, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. During that period, the number of deaths per year rose by around 70 percent, from 72 victims in 2002 to 125 in 2006 and a preliminary count of 120 in 2007.

The number of people laboring in the nation’s oil and gas fields has been soaring as part of a drilling boom that began in 2000-01, but that alone does not appear to explain the rising death toll, since the fatality rate – that is, the number killed relative to the number of workers – also climbed during the first half of the decade.

Many of those deaths have happened in Texas, the nation’s largest producer of crude oil and natural gas.

Experts blame several factors for pushing the toll ever higher in an industry long considered one of the most dangerous in the nation. Among them:

– A dramatic increase in drilling, spurred by record-breaking oil and natural gas prices. The number of workers in oil and gas jobs shot up from 290,000 in 2002 to 428,000 in 2007. In July 2002, 740 land-based oil and gas rigs were operating in the United States; today, there are about 2,000.

– An influx of new workers hired to operate all those rigs. Many of the newcomers are young, inexperienced and speak little English.

– A high-pressure environment where workplace safety lapses are common. Government agencies responsible for enforcing the rules rarely dole out tough penalties.

– Rampant drug and alcohol use among workers, some of whom turn to methamphetamine to get through 12-hour shifts and labor up to 14 days in a row

Worker Injured At Denton County Gas Rig

NBC5i reported that a gas rig worker was injured Monday morning at a gas rig in Krum.

It happened just before 11 a.m. at Barnett Oil Lease on Burns Ranch Road. The worker was injured after something malfunctioned on the rig, according to Tom Reedy, spokesman for the Denton County Sheriff’s Office.

The worker was taken by helicopter to the hospital. There was no word on his condition.

These sorts of injuries are bound to increase in the Barnett Shale play around Tarrant, Wise, Denton, Johnson (etc.) Counties. Talk to the guys working on the pipelines and wells, and you’ll be shocked at the safety shortcuts being taken. Gotta get that gas to market fast, I guess.

Gas Well Explosion in Parker County, Texas

Every day, more and more gas drilling rigs pop up all over north Texas, mainly around Tarrant, Johnson and Parker Counties. And with the increased drilling activity comes a greater risk of injuries, both to workers and to those living around the wells. Today many residents in this area watched as huge flames and a billowing cloud of black smoke erupted near Aledo in northern Parker County following a gas pipeline explosion. Fortunately for the dozen workers and many residents nearby, there have been no serious injuries reported, although thousands of area residents are without power for the foreseeable future.

North Texas is booming from gas production in the Barnett Shale, sometimes quite literally. We all applaud the increased business and tax revenue generated by this industry, but in the haste to punch holes in the ground, we can’t forget that working men and women and their families are often the ones who live with the consequences when mistakes are made. Find out how you can get involved in your community to help ensure that drilling operations are done safely.

Hats off to the Parker County emergency crews who responded to this explosion.