New record: Workplace deaths in oil and gas up 23 pct.

The oil and gas industry – and mining in general – are becoming increasingly dangerous according to preliminary data from the US Bureau of Labour Statistics. The year 2012 saw more on-the-job fatalities in the sector than ever on record with numbers jumping 23% to 183 compared to 112 in 2011.

The figure represents 24.2 fatalities per 100,000 workers. In comparison, agriculture, forestry, fishing and hunting sectors report 21.2 deaths for the same number of employed.

In the private mining sector on-the-job fatalities increased by 14% last year -with  oil and gas accounting for a large majority of that figure. Meanwhile, overall US workplace death dropped 7% in 2012.

Workplace fatalities 2012

Last year 38 people died on the job in the US mining industry, most as a result of getting struck by equipment and other objects. Slips, falls and trips were also major contributors.

Labour Secretary Thomas Perez said his department is working with industries to lower these figures, The Hill reports. 

Since 2007 the oil and gas industry has added 162,000 jobs to the economy – a 40% increase and a far cry from the rest of the private sector which showed employment increases of only 1%. But Perez says the joint rise in jobs and fatalities is “unacceptable.”

“We can and must to better,” he told the Wall Street Journal.

Most recently an American coal miner Jacob Dowdy of Upton, 24, lost his life from a power shovel crash in Wyoming.