More than 100,000 Pennsylvanians are employed at Marcellus Shale hydraulic fracturing sites. Fracking workers earn an average of $62,000. These are great wages, but Marcellus shale workers have dangerous jobs. The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health reports a workplace fatality rate for oil and gas workers of 27.5 per 100,000 employees (2003-2009); this is more than seven times the fatality rate for all U.S. workers. The non-fatal injury rate is also high.
Fracking Accident Injuries
Most fracking-related workplace injuries and fatalities are the result of workplace accidents. Common causes of fracking site injuries are:
- Motor vehicle accidents
- Pump truck accidents
- Machinery malfunctions
- Natural gas pipe failure
- Chemical exposure
Common injuries may include broken bones, burns, amputations, disfigurement, crush injuries, traumatic brain injury, and death. All Pennsylvania work-related injuries are covered by workers’ compensation, even if the employer considers the worker responsible for the injury. This means that your employer can not blame you for your injury, even if you were exhausted after working a 24 hour shift.
Occupational Illness in Fracking Site Workers
While accidents are the leading cause of death and injury at Pennsylvania fracking sites, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control are concerned that working on a fracking site could lead to long-term health effects. A recent NIOSH study found that workers who are exposed to the fine sands used in fracking are at risk of developing silicosis, a serious and irreversible lung disease. Another study found that workers at hydraulic fracturing sites are often exposed to high levels of benzene. Benzene is associated with certain forms of cancer, including:
- Acute myelogenous leukemia
- Chronic myelogenous leukemia
- Acute lymphocytic leukemia
We may not understand all the health risks associated with fracking for several years. However, employees who suffer an occupational disease such as silicosis or cancer are eligible for benefits at the time of diagnosis; this is true even if they are no longer in the industry that caused the illness.
Marcellus Shale Oil and Gas Workers Have Rights
If you are injured on-the-job in Pennsylvania, you have a legal right to receive Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation benefits. Workers’ Compensation will cover your medical bills and pay a portion of the wages that you have lost because of your injury. Unfortunately, many oil and gas industry workers give up this right.
Oil and gas companies know that safety is important. They know that a history of accidents will keep a company from getting contracts. So, they try to hide accidents and injuries. It is not uncommon for fracking companies to deny that an injury was job-related. In some cases, benefits are terminated early in order to save money for the company and to make your injuries appear less serious.
If your employer is making it difficult for you to get the workers’ compensation benefits you deserve, call the Bulldog lawyers at Shor & Levin. Our legal team is ready to fight for your rights. We’ve recovered millions of dollars in benefits for injured workers just like you. Call us toll-free at 866-462-8553 to learn what we can do for you.