Welcome to the new America.
A worker in the oil and gas industry is six times more likely to die on the job than the average American worker. In 2014, 112 oil and gas workers died from workplace injuries. According to Fatalities in Oil and Gas Extraction, or FOG, eight of those workers died in Colorado gaspatches.
In 2007, the U.S. Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board described onshore oil and gas fields as one of America’s most dangerous workplaces. From 2007 to 2012, according to the investigation, 40% of the 663 workers killed in oil & gas related industries died in Texas. In 2012 alone, investigators traced 65 deaths — a 10-year high — along with 79 people who lost limbs, 82 who were crushed, 92 who suffered burns and 675 with broken bones, all in work-related accidents.
Inside Energy recently investigated workplace fatality numbers for the oil and gas industry and found some startling trends, especially for North Dakota.
Read the IE Investigation: Dark Side of the Boom
Along with the exposure to dangerous working conditions, oil & gas workers suffer from health conditions related to on-the-job exposure to radioactive materials and chemical toxins.
GasVets – the men and women who work the rigs, compressor stations and pipelines; drive, clean and maintain the trucks; and staff on-site industry offices — have been ailing, ignored and dying for years.
GasVets.org is a website dedicated to and for the use of workers in oil and gas, both current and past, their families, communities and friends.
In 2012, Josh met the Bevins family at an anti-fracking rally in Philadelphia. They were holding signs that said “A life lost in the rush to drill.”
Gaswork follows Charlotte Bevins as she fights for CJ’s Law, a bill to protect workers named for her brother CJ Bevins, who died on an unsafe drilling site.
In the film, Josh Fox investigates worker safety and chemical risk, interviewing many workers who have been asked to clean drill sites, transport radioactive and carcinogenic chemicals, steam clean the inside of condensate tanks which contain harmful volatile organic compounds, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons and other chemicals and have been told to do so with no safety equipment.
When we hear politicians and gas companies extoll the virtues of fracking, jobs created by drilling is usually high on their list of talking points. But the jobs created by fracking are not the kind of quality jobs American workers deserve. They are extremely dangerous, exposing workers to chemicals whose long-term impacts on human health are yet unknown. In fact, the fatality rate of oilfield jobs is seven times greater than the national average.
New York State Senator Tony Avella has drafted a bill to address worker safety. The Bevins family is working to get it passed in New York and hope it can be a model for worker safety laws in other states.