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Refineries must take steps to reduce workplace accidents

Refinery workers in California have been striking, claiming that their employers are not doing enough to protect them and reduce workplace accidents. The refinery workers have walked out of their jobs, noting that the work stoppage is related to unfair labor practices and needed safety improvements. The contract between the refineries and the workers' union expired on Feb. 1. One key concern centers around reducing workplace accidents by improving conditions.

Employers have the responsibility to provide a safe work environment. These particular workers are seeking safety improvements by initiating a policy that would prevent employees from working too many continuous 12 hour shifts, among other provisions. When continuously working long shifts for up to two weeks at a time, refinery workers face a higher risk for accidents. 

Statistics indicate that workers in the gas and oil industries are six times more likely to die while on the job. The union indicates that these high numbers could be related to forced overtime and other safety shortcuts. California workers are currently lobbying for more involvement in decisions that will have a direct impact on their health and safety at work. 

When individuals are employed in a job with a higher risk of physical injury, such as refinery employees, they may benefit from reasonable and proactive safety standards. Every California worker has basic rights, including a safe work environment and a clear explanation of benefits with regard to workplace accidents. An employee also has the right to seek financial recovery through workers' compensation benefits in the event that he or she is injured on-the-job. 

Source:, Striking Oil Workers Say They're Fighting Deadly Working Conditions", Rebecca Burns, Feb. 11, 2015

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