CDC Releases Data Showing that Fatality Rates Higher for Offshore Workers

Offshore oil rig DangersAccording to a newly released study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, offshore oil and gas employees are seven times more likely to die on the job than the average U.S worker. The study covered the time period from 2003 to 2010. The rate of deaths among offshore workers was 27.1 per 100,000 workers, compared to the national average of 3.8 deaths per 100,000.

During the time period studied, there were 128 fatalities among offshore workers. Fifty-one percent of the fatalities were related to transportation, with the majority of those involving helicopter accidents. Poor weather and mechanical failure were the causes in most of the helicopter accidents. After safety measures were implemented in 2009, there have been no weather-related helicopter crashes based on data through the end of 2012 from the National Aviation Safety Board.

Although the number of offshore drilling rigs decreased 63% during the time period from 2003 to 2010, the number of fatalities annually remained approximately the same, which resulted in a statistical increase in the rate of fatalities per rig. While 68% of the fatalities were workers employed in the oil and gas extraction industry, the remainder worked in related industries including transportation and warehousing, construction, and some others.

The report on the study points out that while catastrophes like the Deepwater Horizon explosion in 2010 receive a lot of attention, they do not account for the majority of fatalities for offshore workers. Since the majority were related to transportation, the report recommends that stringent transportation safety guidelines should be followed. While 51% of the fatalities were transportation related, 16% were due to contact with objects or equipment, 13% with fire and explosions, and 13% were caused by exposure to harmful substances or environments. The average age of the decedents was 41.4 years. All were males, most of whom were non-Hispanic whites. The profession of offshore oil and gas worker was listed recently by CNBC as one of the worst 10 jobs in America recently. Workers in the field earned an average of $37,640 annually in 2010.