Sorry to confuse the hysteria with, you know, facts…

…but the rate of OSHA recordable incidents in the oil and gas extraction industry is considerably less than most industries, including retailing, libraries and tortilla manufacturing.

Before you discount it, be aware that the source of this analysis is not an oil industry lobbying group, but the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

A sharp eye may note that the statistics above represent nonfatal incidents. I’ll let Mr. James Noe, CEO of Hercules Offshore (a shallow water drilling contractor) speak to the statistics for fatalities:

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 2008, there were a total of 21 fatal incidents in the oil-and-gas extraction industry [N.B. - the entire domestic industry, not just offshore - ed.]. Of course, a single death is too many, and a zero-incident rate is the goal. However, a simple review of the facts makes it clear that the industry is much safer than nearly every other industrial business.

In 2008, there were 314 fatalities in farming-crop production, 50 deaths in the fishing industry, 1,016 in the construction business, 498 truckers, 58 taxi drivers, 39 tow-truck drivers, 54 trash collectors and 78 auto mechanics lost their lives. Even in non-industrial settings, many jobs are significantly more dangerous than working on a rig. Forty-eight people died in 2008 working at grocery stores, 44 performing artists, 29 janitors and 302 working in retail stores.

The safety of our industry isn’t by accident or luck. The safety of our employees and the environment is our most sacred obligation. At Hercules Offshore alone, we have trained 5,609 employees. We have long empowered every employee with the authority to call a time out and stop the job — any job. In fact, we make it everyone’s personal responsibility to stop unsafe jobs. Every employee carries a “Time-Out License” that states: “The bearer of this license accepts responsibility for and is fully authorized to call a ‘Time-Out for Safety’ on any Hercules Offshore site or job where he/she perceives a situation to be unsafe or otherwise has concerns about safety.”

Cross-posted at