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Drilling can be a dangerous business

Since 2009, there have been 35 completed Occupational Safety and Health Administration fatality investigations into different businesses involved in the Texas oil and gas industry. Eleven of those wrongful deaths occurred at one of the Eagle Ford Shale oil and gas fields. The Eagle Ford Shale employs thousands of workers and offers them lucrative paychecks, but some question if the price of working in such a dangerous industry is too high.

At the site of each fatality, OSHA found safety violations. Workers at drill sites put in long hours under extremely stressful conditions. The equipment that they work on and with is heavy and can be dangerous if not properly maintained. In addition, many drill sites are in remote areas. If an accident occurs, it may be too late for treatment by the time emergency personnel arrive.

OSHA fines companies who violate safety procedures, but the fines are often reduced if the company complains or if mitigating factors are brought to light. Initially, the fines levied against the 11 companies involved in the Eagle Ford Shale deaths were $10,900, but records show that those fines were cut by nearly 45 percent. To help reduce the number of deaths that occur because of fatal oil and gas work-related accidents, OSHA created the South Texas Exploration and Production Safety Network, but the success of the program has been difficult to gauge.

Families of Texas workers who have been killed on the job often seek recourse against the employers of their lost loved ones. When a company has been negligent in providing safe working conditions, a personal injury attorney may be able to help victims' families get compensation for their tragic loss.

Source: San Antonio Express News, "Eagle Ford pay is high, but work can be fatal," John Tedesco, Feb. 26, 2013

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