Does your age put you at risk when working in oil and gas?

Oil and gas extraction and even refining work can be incredibly dangerous. Not only are there cancer-causing chemicals and dangerous machines involved, but there is the ever-present risk of a fire or explosion when working with flammable materials like oil and gas. 

Many different factors influence a worker’s risk. The nature of the facility where they work, the kind of job they perform and even their education can all play a role.

Surprisingly, a factor that many people don’t consider is age. A breakdown of data related to oil and gas fatalities on the job makes it clear that the age of the worker has a known correlation with their risk at work.

How does age relate to your risk at work?

Data provided by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health shows distinct trends in age, at least when looking at the most recent year’s data, which comes from 2017.

Workers between the age of 21 and 30 were involved in 17 of the 69 oil and gas fatalities that year, which was 25% of the total. Workers who were between 41 and 50 represented another 23% of oil and gas deaths with 16 fatalities.

That younger age group has another time-related risk factor. Specifically, they are more likely than their older co-workers to have worked in construction for less than a year. Of those 69 deaths, at least 10 involved those with under a year of experience.

Younger workers may also have more expensive claims

Younger employees who get hurt on the job and the surviving family members of workers in their 20s who died because of their job will likely need workers’ compensation benefits. The age of a worker can affect how much support they need.

Someone disabled in their 20s will require many more years of support than someone suffering a similar injury just a year before retirement. The same is true for family members adjusting to a sudden loss. More years of lost wages mean more overall financial impact.

Of course, severe injury and death to a worker at any age is a tragedy. Getting necessary benefits like workers’ compensation can’t undo the harm of a workplace injury, but it can at least eliminate the worst financial consequences.