In 2014, a massive explosion tore through the Williams natural gas processing plant in Opal. It forced the evacuation of the southwestern Wyoming town and caused a spike in the price of natural gas. Wyoming’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration conducted an investigation in the aftermath and found a number of safety violations. But the agency never collected the corresponding fines and never released a final report about the investigation.
In 2012 the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health identified fracking sand as a potential health risk for oil and gas workers. Silicosis is a disease that can develop as a result of exposure to silica in sand. Some oil and gas companies have developed procedures to deal with fracking sand that improves safety conditions for workers.
In 2013, 11 oil and gas workers in North Dakota died from a job-related injury, according to data released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Texas had 50 reported oil and gas worker fatalities in 2013, the most of any state. But Texas has roughly ten times more oil and gas workers than North Dakota. Nationwide, 112 oil and gas workers died in 2013, down from 142 the year before. The oil and gas industry, amid safety improvements, is still six times more dangerous than the average American job.