Oil And Gas Worker Fatalities Down In 2013


In 2013, 4,405 Americans died from workplace injuries, according to data released today by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. And 112 – or 2.5 percent – of them worked in the oil and gas industry in jobs like drilling and servicing wells, operating equipment, and machining parts.

This represents a decrease in fatalities from last year, when 142 oil and gas workers died. In the past decade, fatalities have risen along with the oil and gas boom in the U.S.:

But in 2013, the number of fatalities decreased, even though the number of oil and gas workers continued to grow. And, with the exception of 2009 when the boom slowed due to the recession, 2013 represents the lowest fatality rate (deaths per 100,000 workers) in the past decade:

How does oil and gas compare to other industries?

In 2013, the fatality rate for oil and gas industry was 19.1 deaths per 100,000 workers, compared to 3.2 deaths per 100,000 workers in all jobs, meaning an oil and gas worker was six times more likely to die on the job than the average American. This is an improvement over 2012, when oil and gas was seven times more dangerous than industry in general.

Has the oil and gas industry turned a corner in terms of worker safety?

Starting next week, Inside Energy will be taking a close look at the oil and gas industry’s culture of safety:

  • Which boom states are the safest for oil and gas workers, and which are the most dangerous?
  • How does oil and gas’s safety record vary state to state?
  • How does oil and gas compare to other dangerous industries?
  • What are some states – Wyoming and North Dakota – doing to improve safety for oil and gas workers, and are these measures working?

Find answers to these questions – and more – in our upcoming “Dark Side Of The Boom” series.

View the data:

Data Notes:

  • The numbers BLS released today represent preliminary fatality counts. In eight months, BLS will publish revised numbers, which generally represent a two percent increase in workplace fatalities.
  • The oil and gas industry is defined using NAICS codes 211, 213111, and 213112.
  • To calculate the oil and gas fatality rate, Inside Energy used the number of workers from BLS’s Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages (annual average). BLS calculates overall fatality rates using worker hours, which accounts for part-time workers. We also calculated the overall fatality rate for American workers in 2013 using QCEW data and got a rate of 3.3 per 100,000 workers, which showed that the rates are comparable.