Advancing Oil and Gas Workplace Safety and Health Research

The oil and gas extraction industry continues to expand in the United States, but this growth comes with increased risks for workers in the industry. During 2003–2016, 1,485 oil and gas extraction workers were killed on the job, resulting in an annual fatality rate more than six times higher than the rate among all US workers.

The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) is collaborating with partners in industry, government, academia, and labor and with other stakeholders to achieve successful and sustainable outcomes to improve worker safety and health across the oil and gas extraction industry. On December 4–5, NIOSH gathered with these partners as well as hundreds of other oil and gas safety and health professionals, managers, and workers in Houston for the 2018 OSHA Oil & Gas Safety and Health Conference. This is the largest gathering of safety and health professionals in the oil and gas extraction industry. Attendees heard from researchers across many disciplines about research and prevention activities designed to keep the workers in the US oilfields safe and healthy. The following are examples of NIOSH research that was featured at this conference.

Motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of work-related death in the oil and gas extraction industry, and fatigue is an important risk factor in many of these crashes. Oil and gas workers drive long distances from their homes, lodging sites, and equipment yards to reach well sites that are often in remote areas. The combination of long trips and long shifts can result in fatigue. Earlier this year, NIOSH published fatigued driving prevention fact sheets for both employers and workers in the oil and gas extraction industry. This information will be shared with researchers and workplace safety and health professionals gathering next year in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, for a symposium entitled Working Hours, Sleep & Fatigue: Meeting the Needs of American Workers and Employers.

NIOSH is expanding the Fatalities in Oil and Gas (FOG) database to include nonfatal injuries. The purpose of this effort is to provide more detailed, industry-specific data that will increase what is currently known about nonfatal injuries in this workforce. In addition to FOG, our epidemiologists are completing a national survey of oil and gas workers that will provide new information about the workforce and safety and health issues these workers face. This information will be used to help direct future research and prevention efforts. NIOSH is the first to conduct such a survey, and we look forward to sharing the results next year.

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HSE Now is a source for news and technical information affecting the health, safety, security, environment, and social responsibility discipline of the upstream oil and gas industry.