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Workplace accidents leading to deaths on Texas oilfields

The oil boom has brought a lot of positive changes in Texas, including a financial boost to the economy and employment opportunities. Unfortunately, with the good also comes the bad. Workplace accidents at these oilfields are certainly cause for concern.

The Occupational Health and Safety Administration announced that the federal agency will be expanding its pool of inspectors in the Lubbock offices. They plan to hire a total of three more inspectors this year, due to an increase in oilfield accidents in the area. According to this year's data, there have already been 10 deaths on oilfields within the Lubbock office's jurisdiction. This number is higher than the total sum of deaths in this same region in 2013. It also goes against a national trend, which shows a decrease in fatal workplace accidents.

While it is believed that safety has improved in this industry, due to better equipment and technology, it seems that workplace accidents can be accredited to the ever-increasing workforce. OSHA officials are of the opinion that hiring extra employees will increase the time they are available to spend at these sites, hopefully reducing accidents and workplace deaths in the long run. They believe that frequent inspections, along with changes in the industry, are needed in order to see a reduction in these tragedies.

While working in the gas and oil industry comes with an inherent amount of risk, Texas employers are responsible for providing adequate safety training and properly functioning equipment. Those who have lost loved ones in oilfield workplace accidents are typically entitled to workers' compensation death benefits in these circumstances. The insurance program is designed to provide coverage for medical costs and/or end-of-life expenses for those suffering on-the-job accidents. In addition, covered dependents are normally eligible for a financial package to replace some of the lost income sustained as the result of a fatal worksite accident.

Source: oaoa.com, "OSHA adds inspectors as area oilfield deaths increase", Corey Paul, June 13, 2014

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