Risk factors for heat-related illness resulting in death or hospitalization in the oil and gas extraction industry

J Occup Environ Hyg. 2024 Jan;21(1):58-67. doi: 10.1080/15459624.2023.2268142. Epub 2023 Nov 15.


Many oil and gas extraction (OGE) activities occur in high-heat environments, resulting in a significant risk of heat-related illness among outdoor workers in this industry. This report highlights cases of occupational heat-related illness that resulted in death and identifies common risk factors for heat-related fatalities and hospitalizations among OGE workers. Two databases maintained by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) were reviewed to identify heat-related fatalities, hospitalizations, and associated risk factors among OGE workers. Nine fatalities and associated risk factors were identified during 2014-2019 from NIOSH's Fatalities in Oil and Gas Extraction (FOG) Database. Risk factors identified included those commonly associated with heat-related fatalities: new workers not acclimatized to heat, inadequate heat stress training, and underlying hypertension or cardiovascular disease. Of particular note, substance use was identified as a significant risk factor as more than half of the fatalities included a positive postmortem test for amphetamines or methamphetamines. Fifty heat-related hospitalizations were identified from OSHA's Severe Injury Report Database during January 2015-May 2021. Heat stress has been and will continue to be an important cause of fatality and adverse health effects in OGE as hot outdoor working conditions become more common and extreme. More emphasis on heat stress training, acclimatization regimens, medical screening, and implementation of workplace-supportive recovery programs may reduce heat-related fatalities and injuries in this industry.

Keywords: Heat stress; OGE; heatstroke; outdoor workers.

MeSH terms

  • Heat Stress Disorders* / prevention & control
  • Humans
  • Industry
  • Occupational Health*
  • Risk Factors
  • United States / epidemiology
  • Workplace