biggest danger facing oilfield workers 'is not the rig, it's the road'
A new report shows the biggest danger facing oilfield workers isn't the rigs, it's the road.
1200 WOAI news reports researchers studied safety reports for thousands of oilfield operations across the country, and determined that a combination of fatigue, pressure to transport more oil, and heavy vehicles rolling down highways which were built for light traffic combined to make roads in oil boom areas like the Eagle Ford southeast of San Antonio among the most deadly in the country.
Henry Jasny, General Counsel for the private group Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety, who helped prepare the study, told 1200 WOAI news the combination is a deadly mixture, especially considering that many oilfield companies have waivers which allow them to work truckers longer than the law allows.
"With an exemption for oilfield workers from the driver hours of service for truck drivers, they are allowed to drive late in the day when they are fatigued, we have seen a lot of stories about oilfield crashes occurring where fatigue is probably a factor," Jasny said.
Officials in Karnes County, in the middle of the Eagle Ford shale territory, say the number of fatal wrecks in the county has risen from one in all of 2010, to ten just in the first five months of 2012.
"We're very concerned that in rural areas where there is a lot of oil drilling going on, that there is going to be an increase in truck traffic, and it is going to increase the number of truck crashes and truck fatalities," Jasney said.
He says several factors are in play in oil boom areas like the Eagle Ford. First, you have an area filled with generally two lane, narrow farm roads which were never built to handle major truck loads. You have a situation where the oil companies can't make money off the oil until they get it to the terminals, so there is pressure on truckers to move quickly. And you have a situation where, like in the new Eagle Ford area, where pipeline networks have not been constructed, so the largest quantities of oil are being moved by truck.