The U.S. oil and gas extraction industry is a high-risk industry. An analysis of oil and gas extraction worker fatalities for 2003–2006 found that workers were killed on-the-job at a rate seven times greater than the rate among all U.S. workers.1 Research also identified a positive correlation between the industry's fatality rate and industry activity (number of drilling rigs).1 During 2003–2013, the number of active drilling rigs in this industry increased by 71%, resulting in a two-fold increase in the number of workers employed in the industry. 2,3 The boom in activity and employment resulted in an increase in worker deaths as well. Within the industry, elevated fatality rates have been identified among contractors, workers in small companies, and workers new to the industry.4 The largest portion of fatalities is a result of transportation incidents, the majority of which are motor vehicle crashes. 5 The leading cause of death for workers on-site is being struck by, crushed, or caught in equipment. 3,4


The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) began conducting research focused on the U.S. oil and gas extraction industry in response to an increase in the number and rate of fatal injuries in the industry in 2004. As a result, NIOSH created an Oil and Gas Safety and Health Program, which focused its initial research activities on learning about the industry and collecting and analyzing data to describe the most frequent fatal events, the groups of workers most at risk, and associated risk factors. Early NIOSH research projects targeted specific types of fatal events, such as motor vehicle crashes, workers struck by objects, falls, and fires and explosions. The results and recommendations generated by these projects were published in scientific and trade journals, presented at professional conferences and meetings, and included in a series of training videos targeting specific risk factors and high-risk operations. 6

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