According to the OSHA database for the period from 1997 through 2003, one fatality occurred every 10 days in the U.S. upstream (E&P) oil and gas industry. To determine trends and provide insights into the safety failures, as well as potential interventions to eliminate the high frequency of fatal incidents, the seven years of OSHA data were reviewed. This data encompasses over 250 fatalities from the four principal SIC categories that comprise the onshore upstream oil & gas exploration and production industry. Data were sorted initially by region, well drilling or field servicing, rig type, and event. Further analysis was conducted by a diverse team of industry professionals, including representatives from operating companies, well drilling and servicing companies, and industry trade associations. Particular focus was directed at accident type, equipment type and well site location in an attempt to identify causal factors from the limited incident descriptions contained in the OSHA database.

The resulting analysis showed nearly half of all fatalities (47%) resulted from "struck by" incidents; fires and explosions accounted for 16% while falls from heights accounted for another 14% of the fatalities. Fatality incident rates from year to year were strongly correlated to overall upstream industry activity level as represented by the U.S. rig count.

This fatality data review provides oil and gas industry operating managers, safety professionals, trade associations and others a road map for targeted improvement programs and priorities for reducing onshore oil field-related fatalities.

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