Pennsylvania, known for years for the production of steel and coal mining, has welcomed a new industry thanks to Marcellus Shale drilling. In fact, in just over 10 years, nearly 10,000 new wells have been drilled in the state. Along with the increase in the number of wells, an increase in the number of industrial accidents has also been seen. While more industrial sites naturally lead to an increase in the number of industrial accidents, some are wondering if a lack of inspections by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration is to blame.
According to a recent article, OSHA has inspected less than 300 of Pennsylvania's new wells in the past 10 years. In fact, at the time of the article, no well had been inspected in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania since February. What is to blame for the lack of inspections and does the problem only exist in Pennsylvania?
According to an assistant secretary at OSHA, a lack of funding is a large part of the problem. He states that federal and state agencies only have a combined total of 2,300 inspectors. This means that only 2,300 people are responsible for the safety of the entire American workforce. Additionally, research shows that the lack of inspections is not limited to Pennsylvania, as California, North Dakota, Texas and other states have similar inspection numbers.
Thankfully, regardless of whether OSHA is to blame for the number of Industrial Accidents in Pennsylvania or the fault lies elsewhere, workers who sustain injuries while on the job have the right to pursue workers' compensation. Workers' compensation is designed to provide injured workers with financial aid in the aftermath of accidents. The compensation package generally includes coverage for related medical expenses and a portion of lost wages.
Source: pennlive.com, "OSHA inspects less than 3% of shale drilling sites in Pennsylvania," Candy Woodall, Oct. 21, 2015