Travelers: Motor Vehicle Accidents Major Cause of Oil, Gas Worker Injuries

Motor vehicle accidents (MVA) were a common source of injury for oil and gas workers from 2010 to 2014, according to a recent study by Travelers.

In its first-ever study, Travelers Injury Impact Report, the insurance company analyzed 1.5 million compensation claims filed between 2010 and 2014 to determine common injuries and costs associated with these injuries across a number of industries, including oil and gas.

According to the report, the oil and gas industry was the only industry surveyed in which MVAs ranked so highly as a cause of worker injury.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, more than 800 workers in the oil and gas and support industries were killed on the job between 2003 and 2010. That is a fatality rate seven times greater than all U.S. industries, according to Travelers.

The study found that strains and sprains accounted for 26 percent of injuries in the oil and gas sector. These types of injuries caused workers to miss an average of 57 work days, and had an average claim cost of $17,000.

Travelers also found that the most costly injury within the oil and gas sector was multiple trauma at an average of $97,100 per claim. Dislocation was the second most costly injury in the industry, with an average cost per claim of $50,000.

Many of the injuries across oil and gas and other industries are preventable injuries, Erich Watkins, national director of oil and gas, risk control for Travelers, said in an interview with Rigzone. He explained that Travelers has been working with oil and gas companies to prepare them for the next upturn in oil and gas prices and activity. This includes work on workers compensation and managing the lifecycle of employees. While some companies already have good programs in place, Travelers is working with customers to identify gaps in their existing programs.

The surge in MVAs in oil and gas can be attributed to the surge in U.S. onshore shale activity. With this activity, however, came new sources of risk for workers, such as exposure to silica and diesel exhaust and fatigue from driving for long periods of time. The source of MVA accidents didn’t come from large trucks carrying heavy equipment, but from lighter trucks, Watkins noted.

Watkins believes that a combination of technology and proper training can help companies reduce injuries in the workplace. Technology such as automated rigs means drilling can be accomplished without a lot of human intervention. Watkins sees the best solution for reducing hazardous exposures in the workplace is to engineer the hazard out. When that can’t be done, training is needed to address the issue.

The report didn’t delve into injury causes and rates for onshore versus offshore. Watkins did note that more stringent offshore environmental and employee regulations are starting to be brought onshore.

 

Karen Boman has more than 10 years of experience covering the upstream oil and gas sector. Email Karen at kboman@rigzone.com

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