Certain occupations are more inherently dangerous than others. Pennsylvania’s coal mining industry was at one time the cause of many deaths and injuries, but today, the oil and gas drilling industry is regularly listed among the most dangerous. OSHA requires employers to control or mitigate identified hazards. Despite this, deaths and severe injuries in the oil and gas fields continue to increase.
Government studies have revealed the oil and gas drilling industry has a mortality rate five times that of all other industries in the U.S., combined. This translates to over 1,500 deaths in a nine-year period, approximately the same number of American troops who lost their lives in Afghanistan during the same time period. OSHA regularly cites oil and gas companies. Well over half of these 10,000-plus citations over the past decade have been for “serious” issues, meaning those likely to result in severe injury or death.
OSHA has general standards for safety and also industry-specific regulations. Back in the 1990s when George H.W. Bush, a former oilman, was in the White House, OSHA proposed an entire set of regulations for the oil and gas industry. Because of the pending industry-specific rules, oil and gas companies were exempted from certain regulations that apply to other businesses. While the proposal for oil/gas regulations was killed, the safety exemptions remain to this day.
The first remedy for a worker injured on the job is workers’ compensation. A violation of OSHA may or may not be a factor in a claim, but a workers’ compensation lawyer can assess a case and help ensure that the injured employee receives all that he or she is entitled to.