Greater Dangers on the Road than on the Rig 3/27/13
CBS 7 News Reporter
March 27, 2013
Just yesterday three oil field workers on their way to a job site died in a crash. Many assume these crashes are becoming more common simply because of more traffic and more drivers, but something else could be to blame.
Workers are flocking to the basin for a chance to cash in on the oil boom but that comes with a lot of risk and the biggest danger isn't on rigs, it’s actually on the road to it.
"The first word I always tell him is be careful," Haley Huffty, a wife of an oil field worker said.
Huffty says a prayer every time her husband walks out the door to head to work in the oil field.
"It is a job and he has to do what he has to do, but my main concern is him being on the roads," she said.
It’s a fear that the CDC has confirmed is a real threat. In fact, they found that not only are more workers dying, but the likelihood that they die in the event of a wreck is also on the rise.
To put it into perspective, imagine working at least 12 hours of hard labor, then getting behind the wheel of a company truck only to work into the night.
It’s a reality for a large number of oil field workers in west Texas. Just yesterday three men and seven others were injured while on the way to a job.
It's Huffty's worst nightmare.
"He's dead beat tired and driving like that really concerns me as his wife. I want him to be safe at all times,” she said.
But exhaustion and safety don't always go hand in hand and no regulations exist in the oil and gas industry to keep hours worked in check.
"It's a sad scene right now when there's more workers getting hurt and killed in an accident when they're trying to get to a job than actually on the job," Dean McCann, a safety coordinator for the oil and gas industry said.
In 2010, federal authorities proposed to get rid of industry exemptions but companies say they would have to hire inexperienced drivers to fill the void, a road hazard in of itself.
So for now the loopholes remain, leaving industry insiders with the task of teaching employees how to stay safe and alive.
“We tell them to just focus on their 12 hour shift and get home as safely as possible,” McCann said.
Most recently, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration declined to put hour regulations in place for oil and gas industry workers, saying what's in place now has been so for nearly fifty years and they were clear enough.