NIOSH Study Will Examine Oilfield Worker InjuriesSeptember 25, 2015
Researchers with the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health will start a study next month on the high rate of oilfield worker injuries. The study will ask workers about the types of injuries they’ve suffered, the severity of those injuries, and the safety training and equipment provided by their employers. Scientists expect the project to take three years to deliver its findings. The objective of the study is to reduce oilfield worker injuries and develop plans to make the “oil patch” a safer working environment.
Details of the Oilfield Worker Injuries Study
Study organizers will distribute questionnaires on oilfield worker injuries to at least 500 workers in North Dakota, Texas, Colorado, and one other state. Researchers will interview workers at oilfield training centers, well drilling sites, transportation depots, and in towns which rely heavily on revenues from oil patch employees. Many leaders in the oil industry are cooperating with NIOSH researchers in the oilfield worker injuries study. A spokesperson for the Colorado Petroleum Council called the study part of the industry’s “ongoing efforts to preserve safety in the workplace.”
Study Examines High Rate of Fatal Oilfield Worker Injuries
The study will examine the high rate of oilfield worker injuries in various oil patch communities. According to NIOSH, the rate of fatal oilfield worker injuries from 2005 to 2009 was more than twice that of the construction industry and more than seven times the national average. From 2005 to 2013, at least 20 oilfield workers in Colorado lost their lives. Since the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration only inspects drilling sites when a fatality occurs, some observers believe that the energy industry does not always keep accurate counts of the number of fatal injuries.
Dangerous Conditions Lead to Oilfield Worker Injuries
The conditions workers face in the oil patch can lead to some devastating oilfield worker injuries. Workers are routinely exposed to hazards ranging from fire and explosions to toxic levels of dangerous chemicals. Last November, an oilfield worker in Colorado died when a frozen high-pressure water line exploded as he attempted to heat it and restore its water flow. Three other Colorado workers suffered fatal oilfield worker injuries when they tried to measure the level of oil in tanks attached to active wells.
Transportation Accidents As Source of Oilfield Worker Injuries
In addition to the dangers workers face at the drilling sites, a major source of oilfield worker injuries comes from the vehicles that haul equipment to and from those sites. Dr. Kyla Retzer, one of the authors of the upcoming oilfield worker injuries study, stated that part of the study will focus on the behaviors of transportation workers. She told reporters that the data has shown “a lot of deaths involving transportation.” She also said that the study “will be asking a lot of questions about policies regarding seat belts, cellphone use and different training programs.”
Source: Denver Post
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