In a recent survey by CNBC of the worst places to work, offshore oil rig workers ranked #5. Another study by the CDC notes that offshore oil rig workers are seven times more likely to die on the job than the average American worker.
When looking at the occupational outlook for any career, we’re most often interested in wages, benefits, and how long we can expect to have a job in the field. We probably don’t take into consideration things like our part in environmental impact or our chance of dying on the job. As dangerous as some jobs are, you’d expect some hazard pay at least, but the average oil rig worker was making just $37,640/yr in 2010. This doesn’t say much for the dangerous working conditions, which has a fatality rate of 27.1 deaths per 100,000 workers.
Unlike some working conditions, such as those in foreign lands where safety is unheard of, there really isn’t much that can be done to change things on offshore oil rigs. Oil rig worker s work at height, at sea, in all weather conditions, with tons of powered equipment that are just as willing to drill through miles of rock as snap with you in the way.
Perhaps there is one way to address the problem. Stop drilling. But then, oil drilling goes on because there is a demand for petroleum. Over 400 Bangladeshi workers who died in an illegally-built factory so that big names in the clothing industry can benefit from their low wages. About 16 offshore oil rig workers die every year to satisfy our demand for cheap petroleum. Remove the demand, eliminate the problem. Don’t even get me started on BP, Exxon, and Keystone!