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Oilers at risk: study finds high accident rates for gas industry

Long hours, bad roads, and hectic schedules. The work life of an oil and gas employee has never been conducive to relaxing stability; that much is certain. However, a new study has revealed that the strain of working for a well-service, refinery, rigging, or oil transportation company has a stark and sobering impact on one's safety while behind the wheel.

As the Tennessee oil and gas industry continues to comprise a formidable fraction of our state's economy, a recent study's finding that workers in the petroleum sector are 8.5 times more likely to be involved in a fatal motor vehicle accident while on the job when compared to other industries.

The study, which drew from Bureau of Labor statistics and was published online by Accident Analysis and Prevention, noted that workers employed by smaller companies, especially those with fewer than 20 employees, were at the highest risk of a fatal accident. With 202 oil and gas extraction workers killed on the job in car and truck accidents between 2003 and 2009, the news is a sobering reminder that certain jobs, by their very nature, can elevate the risk of death.

However, it may not have to stay that way. The study noted that small oil companies rarely employ a safety technician or specialist, and the pressure of managers and employers placed upon the predominantly young male workforce are clear attributing factors to the high accident rate.

Another startling statistic: 28 percent of all work-related fatalities in the oil and gas industry in the aforementioned period has come as a result of a motor vehicle accident. Only workers in the transportation and warehousing industries are stricken with a higher rate.

While some may contest that accidents, even fatal ones, are merely "a part of the job," the failure of many companies to properly mitigate their drivers' risks can have catastrophic consequences, placing an accident' victim's family in a situation of both extreme grief and financial hardship. Those who have lost a loved one in a motor vehicle accident should work closely with an attorney to explore legal options for financial compensation.

Source: Fuel Fix, "Oilfield workers at higher risk of fatal motor vehicle accidents," Jeannie Kever, Jan. 18, 2013

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