Is the Low Cost of Oil Creating More Risks for Rig Workers?
With the price of oil sitting below $50 per barrel since late June (and briefly dropping below $40 for the first time since 2009), oil companies throughout the world are struggling to meet their financial targets. While this has provided relief at the pump during the summer vacation season, it is not all good news for the American public. As reported by several news outlets, the oil companies are addressing their falling profits by cutting back on spending, and one of the primary targets for budget cuts appears to be workplace safety.
The oil rigs in Wyoming and other states across the West are already some of the most dangerous workplaces in the country. With employers cutting back in areas that directly impact their employees’ safety, the problem may get worse before it gets better.
How Oil Prices Impact Worker Safety
While the oil companies’ profits are falling, they are still producing oil in the West and other regions throughout the country. This is because (i) wells that have already been drilled are still active, and (ii) the oil companies are planning for the future. Oil prices will eventually go up, and when they do, the oil companies will want to have adequate supply to meet the heightened demand.
However, in the meantime, the oil companies are spending less to protect their profit margins while still maintaining “acceptable” levels of production. So, how do they do it? According to news reports, some companies are:
• Reducing their workforce
• Pressuring employees to work longer hours
• Hiring new, less-experienced employees
• Reducing safety training for new and existing workers
• Delaying or foregoing rig maintenance and upgrades
Unfortunately, even when prices go back up and the oil companies resume drilling, workers may still face many of these concerns. With profits front and center, oil companies’ first priority is likely to be hiring additional employees so that they can drill and increase production as quickly as possible.
This influx of new, inexperienced and potentially inadequately-trained employees may put even seasoned employees at increased risk for suffering on-the-job injuries. The same could be true of aging rigs and equipment that were neglected during the economic slowdown.
What Can Oil Rig Workers Do to Protect Themselves?
Oil rig workers are largely at the mercy of their employers when it comes to workplace safety. When the options are to deal with it or go home, employees are often left with little choice but to clock in and control what they can as much as possible. Following safe practices and reporting safety violations can help, but with government regulators often slow to respond, it is ultimately up to the oil companies to rectify the dangerous conditions they’ve created.
Speak with the Wyoming Oil Rig Accident Lawyers at The Spence Law Firm
If you are working under dangerous conditions or have suffered injuries in an accident while working on an oil rig in Wyoming, the lawyers of The Spence Law Firm can help you enforce your rights and fight for just compensation. To schedule a free, confidential consultation, please call (844) 447-5497 or send us an email today.