• 435,000 employees work in the U.S. gas and oil extracting industry;
• 50% of those employees work for well servicing companies, including at fracking wells that lead to benzene exposure;
• 27.5 occupational deaths per 100,000 workers occurred in this industry between 2003 and 2009;
• This death rate is about 7 times higher than the fatality rate for U.S. workers across all industries.
The fracking industry can be extremely hazardous for its workers, including those in Missouri and Illinois, something which seems clear when taking a look at safety statistics. One study released by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) suggests that workers at sites where oil and gas fracking takes place are regularly exposed to significant amounts of benzene. This is particularly concerning because the odorless gas has been proven to cause cancer in certain people. Repeated and prolonged benzene exposure could prove dangerous to many workers in the fracking industry.
The NIOSH study considered how much benzene workers were exposed to at various fracking sites. NIOSH recommends that people be exposed to no more than 0.1 of a part per million, on average, during each shift they work. However, out of the 17 samples that were gathered for this study, 15 of them registered as being above that recommended amount. The samples were taken from areas where workers are exposed to airborne benzene when hatches are open at the top of well site tanks.
These hatches must be opened by workers to inspect tank contents, including chemicals, oil, or waste water that are used or produced during hydraulic fracturing. The NIOSH study produced readings that indicate that workers could be placed at significant risk, especially in cases where they are exposed to high levels of benzene for long periods of time. The study took into account the levels of exposure during the phase of fracking called “flowback.” Flowback occurs after a well is drilled into geological formations like shale, which leads to hydrocarbons flowing back up the well bore over a period of weeks. The flowback substances include dangerous chemicals like benzene and waste fluids.
A chemical you may be exposed to every day causes blood cancer. Benzene is in penetrating oil, affects dry cleaning industry workers, chemical manufacturing workers, gas station workers, hazardous waste disposal workers, plastic manufacturing workers, painters and lithographers, industrial workers in the coatings industry and residents who use well-water near manufacturing waste sites or whose well water smells like “solvent”.
Workers who suffer serious injury or death due to benzene exposure or other hazards in the fracking industry, or surviving relatives, do not have to suffer in silence. Missouri and Illinois law allows these individuals to seek financial restitution in civil courts of law. Please call us at 1-888-586-7041 to learn more about your rights under the law. We take pride in helping our clients pursue those rights and hold negligent parties responsible for their actions or inaction.
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Sources: http://www.southernstudies.org/2012/05/institute-index-frackings-dangers-for-workers.html and http://www.latimes.com/science/sciencenow/la-sci-sn-fracking-benzene-worker-health-20140910-story.html#page=1