Common Causes of Oil Field Accident Fatalities

The oil fields of Montana and other states attract many young people. They're eager to make relatively high pay in exchange for the potential danger inherent in these extraction jobs. To promote worker safety, the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) analyzed the oil industry's fatalities in 2013. It received its data from the requirement for employers to report either fatalities or any hospitalization of three or more employees within eight hours. Such reports typically generated OSHA inspections.

The most common cause of fatalities was being struck by objects such as falling or moving pipes and drilling equipment. Even small tools and debris can prove dangerous if dropped from elevated areas. The second most common causes were equally divided among transportation incidents and falls. Where vehicles were involved, deaths were caused by being run over by trailers or other vehicles, being hit by a front-end loader, and not wearing a seat belt. For falls, the lack of guardrails and either missing or improper fall protection were the main culprits.

Both explosions and “caught in” incidents ranked third equally. The causes of explosions included ignition of vapors from crude oil or natural gas, electrical equipment that was not well-maintained, or welding/cutting near materials that were combustible. The “caught in” incidents refers to individuals being crushed between machinery, such as power tongs, because machine guarding was either improper or missing.

If you are involved in any such oil field accidents, injuries, or fatalities, or have reason to believe that your employer is ignoring OSHA and other safety standards, please contact us. We're here to protect you.