According to the Wall Street Journal, a staggering 142 oilfield workers died on the job last year. And this number is expected to rise as the numbers are revised, likely making 2014 the deadliest year for oilfield workers since 1993. This rise in fatalities is not limited to oilfield workers, however. Overall workplace fatalities have risen from 4585 last year to 4679, again with the expectation that the final total will likely increase by 200 additional deaths once all revisions are completed. Construction, manufacturing, mining and agriculture have all also seen an increase in workplace fatalities.
Not surprisingly, Texas had the most workplace fatalities with 524. That is a 3% increase from the year before. This is in comparison to California, which despite having a larger population, had nearly 200 less on the job fatalities. One reason for the discrepancy may be the fact that Texas has a larger number of workforce employed in particularly dangerous jobs such as construction and oil field work.
The important question that remains unanswered is why the uptick in oil field deaths and other workplace fatalities? Recent efforts by the federal government to increase oversight and enforce workplace safety rules do not seem to be working. What it always comes down to is employers taking employee safety seriously. Not all fatalities can be prevented, but with stringent work place safety requirements and proper safety equipment provided to employees, hundreds of lives can be saved every year.