The Bollinger Law Firm, P.C.

Underreporting injuries may lead to fatalities in drilling sector

According to the chief of the Occupational Health and Safety Administration, the fatality rate in the oil and rig industry is seven times more than that in any other industry. Despite these statistics, North Carolina residents may be surprised to hear that injuries on the job are not similarly high. This may be because there is not a culture of reporting incidents, which leaves relevant parties in the dark about the possibly unsafe work environment.

Reporting a workplace injury not only makes it possible to file a workers' compensation claim against a negligent employer, but also makes flaws in the industry's safety policies visible, which may prevent future, more serious accidents. Unfortunately, representatives from various organizations claimed that underreporting was indeed a reality, as a lower number of injuries influences a contractor's decision in hiring a company.

When it comes to accidents in the oil and gas drilling sector, most of them were found to be caused by car accidents, particularly pickup trucks. In addition to this, other safety hazards included chemical exposures, fires and explosions, and fall hazards. In fact, overexposure to silica is one of the major concerns for the industry, and organizations claimed they were committed to finding short-term and long-term solutions to combat this problem.

OSHA experts identified that changing safety culture is the key to reducing accidents in the highly lucrative yet risky industry. Feedback is required from safety personnel to improve safety culture, and they were encouraged to speak up.

It is the duty of employers to create a safe working environment for their employees, and to create a safety culture of reporting worker injuries so they can remedy the danger immediately. It is an employee's right to file a workers' compensation claim to cover medical expenses and replace lost wages in case of an injury sustained while performing a job.

Source: Occupational Health & Safety, "Michaels, Howard cite upstream industries' high fatality rate," Dec. 5, 2012

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