For many in the Los Angeles and San Joaquin Valley area, the California oil and gas industry provides more than just a job—it is the lifeblood of the region’s economy. Unfortunately, those working in and near these industries are well-aware that with the great wealth of these natural resources, comes an incredible risk involved in extracting them from the Earth.
More than 500 refinery accidents have been reported to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) since 1994, resulting in death and injury to thousands of workers. Here’s what you need to know about the dangers of oil field and refinery accidents:
The Oil & Gas Industry in California
Oil and gas have been a major industry in California for over a century. In 2012, California was the third-highest oil-producing state, behind Texas and North Dakota. According to the Western States Power Association (WSPA), in the year 2013 the California oil and gas industry:
- Supported 455,940 jobs (directly and indirectly)
- Produced $38 billion in labor income
- Produced $204 billion in economic activity (5.7% of California’s total output)
- Provided $21.2 billion in state/local tax revenue
15 deaths have been reported related to Major Refinery Incidents (MRIs) in California since 1995. However, this number may be significantly fewer than the actual deaths of refinery-workers—oil companies have been increasingly contracting out their most dangerous work to subcontractors and smaller companies, the most prominent example being drilling oil and gas wells. These jobs are classified separately from oil and gas production, instead considered mining for the purposes of reporting. As such, their deaths are recorded elsewhere in the federal statistical record.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the most common cause of fatal events of oil and gas workers in the course of work was transportation incidents, accounting for 41% of all incidents in 2008. Contact with objects and equipment account for 25% of fatal incidents, followed by fires and explosions (15%).
Common Causes of Oil Field and Refinery Accidents
Some common causes of oil field and refinery accidents include:
- Improper safety training
- Failure to comply with law, safety standards, and protocols
- Failure to supply or insufficient safety equipment
- Failure to train and provide site visitors with property safety equipment
- Failure to provide adequate or working fire suppression equipment
- Failure to provide regular maintenance to equipment
- Failure to repair or replace faulty equipment
- Faulty design or manufacturing of equipment
- Cracks and fissures in pipes and lines
- Cracks and fissures in storage units
- Improper storage of hazardous fluids
- Failure to report violations
If You’ve Been Injured at an Oil Field or Refinery, Contact a Workers’ Compensation Attorney
Even if you take all of the appropriate steps to maintain your safety, accidents happen—especially in dangerous environments like oil fields and refineries. Contact a skilled workers’ compensation lawyer to discuss your options for legal recourse. The award-winning attorneys at The Dominguez Firm will fight for oil and gas industry workers and their families to get the justice and compensation they deserve. Call today for a free consultation at 800-818-1818.