Because of the events at Upper Big Branch and Sago in recent years, we know all too well that underground mining can end in tragedy. However, most people do not realize that oil and gas extraction work takes more lives annually than all other mining activities. Between 2003 and 2010 a total of 823 oil and gas extraction workers were killed on the job – a fatality rate nearly twice as great as all other mining activities combined and, alarmingly, seven times greater than the U.S. rate for all other industries.
According to the same statistics, an average of 4,425 non-fatal injuries are suffered by oil and gas workers every year. Disturbingly, when an oil and gas worker is hurt on the job, the injuries tend to be much more severe – the median is 30 days off work compared to 7 in all other industries.
The obvious truth is that oil and gas extraction employees work harder and longer than most of us, doing things that can be dangerous. However, almost all of the deaths and injuries suffered on the job by oil and gas workers are preventable:
- 41% of oil and gas workers’ deaths happened in vehicle accidents
- 15% of oil and gas workers’ deaths happened in fires and explosions
- 57% of oil and gas workers’ injuries were caused when workers were struck by or caught in or against an object or piece equipment
- 15% of oil and gas workers’ injuries were caused by falling
While West Virginia workers will continue to seek the rewards promised by higher wages in the oil and gas extraction industry, the only real way to significantly reduce the risk is to hold producers, operators and contractors responsible when their reckless, careless and sometimes intentional conduct leads to a preventable death or injury.
If you or someone you love sustains any of these types of injuries, contact a Miley Legal Group attorney to safeguard your rights.