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Falling Profits Affect Industry’s Safety Policies

Angel Reyes Blog - Falling Profits Affect Industry's Safety Policies

According to the Wall Street Journal, the number of workplace fatalities, those who died as a result of a job-related accident, is rising and at it’s highest level since 2008. The data shows that approximately 4700 people died from work-related accidents in 2014, the most recent year statistics were gathered, up from the 4500 or so deaths a year earlier. The largest increase in the fatality rate in terms of demographic was the death rate for female workers which almost doubled from 8% to 13% of all workplace accidents. This trend toward increasing workplace fatalities is troubling for OSHA officials who fear that increases in their safety enforcement efforts money are not having the desired effect of reducing work-related fatalities.

The article goes on to state that the death rates of many of the traditional high-risk professions, construction, agriculture, increased as well, and that one industry in particular had a very significant increase in deaths.

The Journal cites that the number of workers in the oil and gas industry that died in 2014 was dramatically higher than the year before. 142 oil and gas rig workers died in 2014, a 27% jump in deaths over the year before. The majority of these deaths were in the leading oil and gas producing states of Texas, Wyoming and Colorado. One reason that was cited as also changing coincidentally with the increase in deaths was the fact that over the same time period 2013-2014, the price of a barrel of oil fell perceptively.

If the trend continues, 2015 could shape up to be the most deadly year for oil and gas workers since 1993. One of the implications made in the article is that perhaps oil and gas companies are not as eager to enforce safety measures for their employees as falling income and losses in the industry mount. Given that oil prices might remain at these low levels for years to come, industry officials are fearful that the death rates for oil and gas workers could continue to increase.

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