In recent years, the oil shale boom initiated well-paying oil field jobs to cities all over Texas and across the country. But economic opportunity isn't all the oil rush has brought with it.
According to law enforcement officials, locales that suddenly become hubs for oil and gas extraction also tend to see an uptick in drug trafficking, drug abuse, and drug-related crime.
Employee drug use would be a concern for employers in any industry, but in the oil and gas extraction industry—which already has a fatality rate three times that of other industries—drug use among employees is particularly worrisome. On the oil field, the decision of whether to take drugs could literally have life or death consequences.
If you were injured or lost a loved one in an oil field accident caused by someone who was under the influence of drugs or alcohol, you may be entitled to compensation. Here's what you need to know.
Drug Use Among Oil Field Workers
Drug use among Americans is on the rise, according to the results of a recent National Survey of Drug Use and Health, in which as many as 48 million admitted to having used recreational drugs in the previous year.
Drug use among employees in the construction, mining, manufacturing, and oil and gas extraction industries was particularly high. Approximately 16.5 percent of workers admitted to heavily abusing alcohol within the past months, and 12 percent admitting to using recreational drugs during that time. Additionally, more than 14 percent of surveyed workers in these sectors reported having used recreational drugs within the past year.
So, what are the drugs of choice out on the oil fields? According to law enforcement, the most commonly used drugs include:
- Prescription pain relievers, such as opioids
Reasons Some Oil Field Workers Turn to Drugs
Oil field workers who turn to drugs often do so to help them meet the grueling demands of their jobs. For example, oil field workers frequently work long hours performing extremely boring tasks. Stimulants such as cocaine and methamphetamine can help oil field workers stay awake through shifts lasting up to 48 hours. However, this “help” comes at a significant cost in the form of a devastating “crash” as the effects of the stimulants wear off. To mitigate the discomfort associated with such a crash, oil field workers may abuse alcohol or pain killers, or use marijuana.
There's one other main reason oil field workers might turn to drugs: to help them cope with pain from injuries sustained in an oil field accident. Prescription opioid abuse has reached devastating proportions in the United States, and the oil and gas extraction industry is hardly immune from this problem. After being injured in an oil field accident, workers may be given a prescription for an opioid painkiller. If not used as directed and under supervision from a doctor, the injured oil field worker may become dependent on the drug.
Drugged Oil Field Workers Increase Risk of Accidents
Oil fields are inherently dangerous workplaces where precision matters. Workers need to be alert at all times to avoid preventable—and potentially catastrophic—workplace accidents.
Drug use can jeopardize worker safety and increase the risk of serious accidents such as fires, explosions, falls, or vehicle accidents by making individuals under the influence groggy or unfocused, or slow their reaction time.
Do You Need an Oil Field Accident Attorney?
Oil field accidents can leave workers with catastrophic injuries—when they're fortunate enough to survive at all. If you were injured in an oil field accident caused by a foreman, co-worker, or third-party crew member who was under the influence of drugs or alcohol, you may be entitled to compensation for damages.
Contact McGartland Law Firm today to discuss the details of your oil field accident case. Our award-winning firm offers no-cost, no-obligation initial consultations.