Are Oil Industry Workers at Risk for Cancer?

Workplace safety must always be taken seriouslyAfter the Deepwater Horizon disaster, the oil industry became associated with fires and explosions in the eyes of the American public. However, there are other dangers that lurk in the oil industry many people might overlook.

Workers in the oil industry are frequently exposed to benzene, a petrochemical solvent. The International Agency for Research on Cancer has linked benzene with leukemia, multiple myeloma and non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.

A National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) study discovered fracking workers are exposed to hazardous levels of benzene. NOISH recommends benzene exposure limits of 0.1 part per million (this unit of measurement describes the concentration of a chemical found in water, soil or air).

The study conducted by NOISH found fracking workers regularly exceeded safe exposure limits. When the study was conducted in 2012, more than 562,000 workers were employed in domestic oil and gas extraction.

A Cruel Fate: How People Are Hurt by Workplace Carcinogens

Several years ago, the Center for Public Integrity published a heartbreaking article detailing the story of a man who succumbed to leukemia after spending a decades-long career building infrastructure for the petrochemical industry. Throughout his career, he regularly worked around unsafe levels of benzene.

On his deathbed, the man was left weakened and disfigured from several blood transfusions. After fighting leukemia for three years, he passed away at 70 years old.

With current studies suggesting oil industry workers have been exposed to the same dangerous chemicals, it is possible that the coming decades will produce similar tragedies for workers and their families. Benzene is not the only workplace carcinogen found in the oil industry. Formaldehyde and numerous polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons have also been linked to cancer.

When we discuss workplace safety, we should consider the possible long-term risks that can affect workers and their families. Companies have a responsibility to ensure their workers are not exposed to dangerous levels of workplace carcinogens.

The Lafayette personal injury attorneys at Galloway Jefcoat have decades of experience holding negligent businesses accountable for unsafe working conditions.


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