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Booming Permian Basin Oilfields Could Extract Deadly Toll on Workers and Their Families

Oilfield Accident Lawyer | Texas Oilfield Accident Lawyer | Permian Basin Oilfield Accident Lawyer

Oilfields throughout the Permian Basin are booming once again, bringing much-needed jobs and economic growth to hundreds of small communities throughout West Texas and southeastern New Mexico.

Unfortunately, the boom has a dark side, as the number of oilfield workers at risk for death, illness, or serious injury is now higher than at any other time in recent history.

Permian Basin Production Expected to Double, as Oilfield Employment Surges in Texas

Drilling booms aren’t anything new in the Permian Basin, but this one is different.

In fact, according to The Texas Tribune, it’s unprecedented.

That’s because in 2015, Congress lifted decades-old restrictions on crude-oil exports.

By last December, Permian Basin drillers were extracting twice as much oil as they had just four years earlier, when the previous boom ended. What’s more, it’s estimated that production could double once again by by 2023.

Oilfield employment has followed a similar trajectory. In fact, there are now 50,000 more oilfield workers on the job in Texas compared to just a decade ago.

Oilfield Accidents Have Killed Over 1,500 Workers Since 2008

Drilling has always been dangerous work. Even before the current boom, the death rate in the nation’s oilfields was five-times higher compared to all other industries.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 1,566 oilfield workers died on the job from 2008 through 2017. Nearly the same number of troops died in Afghanistan during that period.

“It is a macho world,” safety consultant Frank Parker told The Texas Tribune. “They get up in the morning and eat nails for breakfast. We need those people to do that kind of work. We’ve just got to find a way not to kill them.”

Unfortunately, the death toll is likely to grow, as production pressures – and the temptation to cut corners – intensify during boom times.

Oil & Gas Industry Exempt from Key OSHA Regulations

With more people than ever working alongside bone-crushing machinery, explosive gases and cancer-causing chemicals, the U.S. Occupational Health & Safety Administration (OSHA) has taken steps to ramp up enforcement in the nation’s oilfields.

Unfortunately, it’s not clear these efforts are effective, as drillers are  exempt from many key  regulations.

These exemptions include OSHA’s Process Safety Management Standard, which requires other hazardous industries to establish procedures to prevent fires, explosions and chemical leaks.

Despite the dangers inherent to the industry, onshore drillers won an exemption from the standard in 1992. In the ensuing years, they’ve successfully lobbied to maintain the status quo by pointing to, among other things, a purportedly low injury rate.

“They have a low injury rate because they often don’t report their injuries,” David Michaels, who led OSHA during the Obama Administration, told the Texas Tribune. “They have a very high fatality rate, so it’s simply not possible they have a low injury rate.”

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Our Undefeated Oilfield Accident Lawyers have won over $1 billion for hundreds of workers and families in Texas, Louisiana, and throughout the United State following catastrophic oilfield accidents and explosions.

If you or someone you love were injured on the job, and you have questions about your legal rights and options, please call 1-888-603-3636 or Click Here to send us a confidential email via our “Contact Us” form.

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