In the national and local discussions about Marcellus Shale drilling – more commonly referred to as fracking – the narrative often revolves around the impact the industry has had on both jobs and the environment.
Largely absent from conversations surrounding Marcellus Shale drilling is the subject of fracking injuries to workers in the field.
- In 2005 national labor officials noted that fatalities among oil and gas workers increased 15 percent from 2003 to 2004.
- After an investigation, the Centers for Disease Control found the overall fatality rate was increasing. “Shifts grew longer, more inexperienced workers were hired, and older rigs were being pressed into service, the agency concluded,” according to SourceWatch.com.
- Marcellus Shale-related fatalities increased from 68 in 2009 to 110 in 2011.
Just last month, three contract workers were seriously injured after a pipeline burst in the Gulf.
But while some injuries are of workers in far-away places, some of those injuries are also close to home.
In February 2014, a Greene County, Pennsylvania, man was burned to death when natural gas escaped from a well and exploded.
And take a story published recently in The Intelligencer in neighboring West Virginia and Ohio.
In it, the newspaper explains that over the past five years, there have been more than 21 Marcellus Shale drilling or pipeline-related accidents in the Ohio Valley.
In fact, risks to workers involved in the fracking process are so serious that the United States Department of Labor has issued a Hazard Alert.
Of particular concern to OSHA is the exposure workers in the Marcellus Shale industry have to airborne silica.
Here’s why: Fracking sand contains up to 99 percent silica and breathing silica can cause silicosis, which is a lung disease during which lung tissue around trapped silica particles reacts, causing inflammation and scarring and reducing the lungs’ ability to take in oxygen.
“Workers who breathe silica day after day are at greater risk of developing silicosis,” the OSHA website states. “Silica can also cause lung cancer and has been linked to other diseases, such as tuberculosis, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, and kidney and autoimmune disease.”
But even OSHA acknowledges that exposure to silica, while deadly serious, is not the only type of fracking injury workers suffer during the Marcellus Shale drilling process.
Fracking injuries may also happen if:
- A worker is struck by moving equipment, including motor vehicle accidents, tools and falling objects.
- Being struck by high-pressure lines or an unexpected release of pressure
- Fires or explosions from flowback fluids containing ignitable materials and other flammable materials stored or used at the well site.
- Working in confined spaces, such as sand storage trailers, frac tanks and sand movers
It is imperative for workers who have been hurt in a fracking injury to contact an experienced lawyer whose practice deals extensively with Marcellus Shale-related personal injury claims.
Here’s why: The Marcellus Shale gas companies and their insurance providers are extremely aggressive when defending against injury claims.
It’s important to have an attorney on your side who can stand up to the insurance companies on your behalf.
Like many legal proceedings, an injured worker who is filing a legal claim against his employer should be aware that there are often strict deadlines by which information must be received and paperwork filed.
Our attorneys handle personal injury and wrongful death claims arising from oil- and gas-related incidents such as: shale field truck accidents, land and water contamination, chemical leaks and spills, fires and gas explosions, drilling accidents, and well site accidents.
We also represent Pennsylvania landowners engaged in lease and contract disputes with oil and gas companies.
If you or someone you love suffered a fracking injury, call the personal injury attorneys at Pribanic & Pribanic today to schedule a free initial consultation by calling 412-672-5444 or toll-free at 800-392-4529.