For years, oilfields in Texas have played a significant role in the state’s economy and workforce. Overall, the state of Texas experienced peak oil production in 1972, with production declining in the early 2000s.
Despite this difficult situation, 1.85 billion barrels were produced statewide in 2019, marking the highest year of oil production in U.S. history.
The greatest oil-producing cities in Texas
According to the Energy Information Administration, oil production in the United States is about 12.23 million barrels of oil per day. This makes Texas’ contribution to the nation’s oil production quite noteworthy.
Today, Texas is one of the main oil-producing states along with Oklahoma and California. Together they surpassed Russia, a country considered to be the main oil producer in the world.
Due to the impact of oil in Texas, experts have analyzed how this industry has led to corporate development and wealth. Oilfield discoveries led to the founding and flourishing of numerous Texas towns. It also supported the success of companies that have now become multinational corporations.
Texas oilfields and laws
The oilfield equipment and services industry refers to all products and services associated with the oil and gas exploration and production process. In general, these companies are engaged in the manufacture, repair and maintenance of equipment used in the extraction and transportation of oil.
Products such as seismic testing, transportation services and horizontal drillers, in addition to well construction, production and completion services, are generally what most would think of when oilfield services come to mind.
If you’re interested in this industry, you should know that there are laws in place to operate oilfields, as well as those to protect workers from potential risks when performing these activities.
Oil and gas rights are part of the broader issue of for-profit mineral rights. For this reason, oil and gas extraction requires careful planning and procedures.
Most oil and gas laws are governed at the state level, as the federal government has little say in oil and gas law. However, federal law covers land leasing and permitting.
Similarly, the federal government also regulates offshore drilling in order to control who can extract oil and gas.
What rights protect you while working at an oilfield in Texas?
Working at an oilfield is a dangerous job. According to an E&E News report, the risk of injury for oil and gas industry workers is five times higher than the national average for other occupations.
When it comes to serious injuries, oilfield workers have a lot to worry about, as they run the risk of being involved in motor vehicle accidents, being struck by equipment, or even slipping and getting caught between or underneath equipment, resulting in wrongful death.
Similarly, oil and gas field workers are exposed to extreme hazards, such as toxic chemicals, fires and explosions.
Some of these hazards can’t be eliminated, but they often can be reduced when employers respect workers’ rights.
Rights you have when working at an oilfield
Just because you have entered a hazardous industry doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be protected. You have the same rights as all U.S. workers. The following rights exist to protect you while working at an oilfield.
Equal employment opportunities
Oilfield workers are protected by Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which guarantees equal opportunity for workers.
This law applies to any employer with more than 15 workers. This means that the oilfield operator and company can’t discriminate in their hiring and job promotion processes on the basis of race, national origin, gender, religion, etc.
Language shouldn’t be a barrier to employment either, unless a specific language is required for the job.
All full-time workers are guaranteed access to health insurance under the Affordable Care Act. Companies that employ 50 or more workers and don’t offer a minimum level of insurance are required to pay a penalty.
Due to the hazardous nature of the industry, it’s necessary for all oil and gas field workers to have access to good health coverage.
Safe work environment
The entire industry is governed by oilfield labor rights under the Merchant Marine Act of 1920. This statute regulates maritime commerce in U.S. waters and between ports.
This legislation empowers workers on the high seas to file claims and collect compensation from negligent employers. If an employer fails to comply with safety standards and an employee is injured or killed on the job, he/she can be sued.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) enforces ground safety standards for rig employees.
All oil rig workers must have the Transportation Worker Identification Credential, which is issued by the Transportation Security Administration.
It’s intended to deter terrorists from working in the industry and preventing them from getting access to critical transportation infrastructure.
Obtaining this credential requires employees to pass an FBI background investigation, which uncovers any legal matters that the applicant has been involved with. These matters may be civil or criminal.
If you have been terminated by your oilfield manager, you’re entitled to unemployment compensation. However, compensation rights may vary by state.
Oilfield workers generally earn a high salary, but they’re still entitled to overtime if they work more than their scheduled hours.
The Fair Labor Standards Act guarantees overtime pay to oilfield workers who work more than 40 hours in a workweek.
Common oilfield overtime violations result from the following activities:
- Ignoring bonuses and overpaying in overtime calculations
- Paying a fixed wage, daily rate or per job rate without overtime pay
- Classifying oilfield workers as independent contractors to avoid overtime pay
- Not considering time spent on travel, meetings, or training as time worked
- Classifying non-exempt workers as exempt workers
- Calculating full-time pay (instead of time-and-a-half) for hours worked over 40 in a week
There are some federal statutes that protect whistleblowers in the oil and gas industry.
Many employees are afraid to speak up about workplace safety violations. OSHA’s Whistleblower Protection Program seeks to protect workers’ rights.
Contact an experienced oilfield injury lawyer in Texas
Oil and gas workers face hazardous working conditions while working at oilfields.
Although some hazards can never completely be avoided, workers are entitled to compensation when employers are negligent.
If you have been discriminated against or injured because a company failed to provide you with a safe working environment at an oilfield, it’s time to hire an attorney.
At the Law Offices of George Salinas, we can help build your oilfield catastrophic injury claim to negotiate the best possible compensation settlement. Legal expenses can be costly, so you won’t pay us unless we win your case.
Get in touch with our team and schedule your free consultation!
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