The increase in oil and gas production across the United States has been praised for boosting the economy by providing thousands with jobs. However, the number of workplace injuries have also risen to an industry high, In 2012, 142 fatalities were reported by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The U.S. Labor Department characterizes fracking as “very high hazard work.”
While the number of fracking-related industries has increased, the greatest number of workplace injuries in the energy industry are vehicle- related accidents. Texas Mutual Insurance Company has cited to inexperienced operators and fatigue as reasons for the accidents.
North Dakota has the highest incidence of work-related fatalities. This comes as no surprise given the presence of the Bakken Shale formation in North Dakota. The reported fatality rate was 104 deaths per 100, 000 workers. More than half of all those who died in oil and gas related injuries were killed in transportation accidents.
Many have cited to a lack of regulation and the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (OSHA) being understaffed. In North and South Dakota, two of the largest areas for oil and gas extraction, there are only eight OSHA compliance offers. OSHA has admitted that most of its actions are reactive, once an accident or death has occurred, they will come in to investigate.
Several states have been working on new regulations for hydraulic fracking to decrease the number of groundwater pollution concerns. The same should be done with reference to safety of workers.