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Rig Workers Dying for Oil

Death Toll Seven Times the National Average

The number of people working in the US oil and gas fields that are seriously injured or killed is on the rise. Reports put the number of fatalities at 598 between 2002 and 2007, with the death toll having increased by 70 percent per year, from 72 people killed in 2002 to 125 in 2006. The preliminary number of fatalities for 2007 is 120. These numbers translate to a death rate seven times the national average for that time period.

Many of the deaths reportedly occur in Texas, the largest oil and gas-producing state in the nation. While the number of people working in these industries has risen since 2001, experts believe that alone does not account for the rapidly rising death toll. They cite factors such as the high-pressure environment, in which work place safety regulations may not always be adhered to, and an influx of new workers who are young, and may not be fluent in English.

In a recent case in a Texas oil field, a 23-year old man was cut in half by a motorized spool of steel cable, reportedly doing a job he was not regularly assigned to do, as part of an effort to get the rig he and his crew were working on back in operation quickly. The company for whom he was working had 13 employee deaths between November 2003 and April 2007. While the company was fined $432,000, all but $115,000 were forgiven.

SEPT-11-08: U.S. oil fields are increasingly killing fields [MSNBC: US OIL FIELD DEATHS]

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Published on Sep-11-08


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