When we talk about making improvements to anything in life, we often look to the past to determine how to move forward. This is true in the arena of workplace safety as well. OSHA likely bases its rules around safety off of what has worked or hasn't worked in the past. Because these rules are often based on real life situations, it is imperative that companies adhere to them in order to keep their employees safe. Unfortunately, not all companies do.
Recently, the San Antonio Express-News investigated OSHA records about the Eagle Ford Shale dating back to 2009. What reporters found was that in 11 worker deaths, OSHA found safety violations. Although the oil industry is inherently dangerous to work in, that does not mean employers do not have to keep their facilities up to safety standards.
If oil companies do not adhere to workplace safety rules put in place by OSHA, they may face substantial fines or other consequences. In the case of these fatal accidents, reporters found that each fatality ended up costing the companies an average of $6,100 -- a small price for such devastating accidents.
Some people may wonder how a fine that a large oil company will hardly feel can help prevent further deaths. For some, says the area director for OSHA in Corpus Christi, the violations are enough of a deterrent. Companies want to attract employees and maintain good reputations in their industries. Because of this, the area director says many are willing to make changes to avoid OSHA investigations and further violations.
Losing a loved one in a workplace accident is something no one wants to imagine. Finding out that your loved one's death was possibly the result of an employer's negligence may be even more difficult to deal with. However, there are ways to hold a workplace accountable. An experienced attorney can help a person who has lost a loved one to a workplace accident take legal action.
Source: ABC 13, "OSHA: Safety violations found in oilfield deaths," Feb. 17, 2013