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Worker death toll at oil refineries is largely unknown

Minnesota residents might be interested to learn about how many worker deaths take place at oil refineries. Although the Occupational Safety and Health Administration maintains records of all of the deaths and injuries that occur in various industries each year, many people don't know that a lot of oil workers are not classified under the 'petroleum refining" category. Therefore, determining how many fatal accidents take place at oil refineries is not always a straightforward task.

According to reports, looking at the 'Petroleum Refining" category of OSHA's workplace deaths and injuries records will only reveal a small percentage of the annual deaths that occur at oil refineries. Many workers at oil refineries are classified under other categories such as 'Heavy Construction", 'Fabricated Plate Work" and 'Special Trade Contractors, Not Elsewhere Classified." In fact, not one of the 15 workers who died in the 2005 Texas City explosion was classified as a petroleum refiner because they were all contractors.

During the 10 years before the explosion at BP in Texas, there were at least 64 confirmed deaths at oil refineries. In the following years since the explosion took place, there have been at least 58 confirmed oil refinery deaths. Tracking these numbers, however, requires researchers to conduct exhaustive searches of OSHA records, newspaper archives and government investigative reports.

A worker who has been injured while working on an oil refinery is in many cases covered by workers' compensation insurance. Regardless of what caused the workplace accident, an injured worker may be entitled to a percentage of wages lost as well as having medical expenses covered.

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