The AARP Bulletin recently did a story about how Americans 50 and older are flocking to North Dakota to work in the oil industry.
In a nation that is slowly crawling out of a recession, where jobs are still scare and older workers are not-so-subtly discriminated against, at first glance North Dakota’s oil boom and job boom sound like a dream come true.
For example, the AARP story talks about 55-year-old Charles McKinney, who works on an oil derrick in Williston, N.D. Roughly half of his crew is over 50. And they are making good wages. McKinney earns $42 an hour.
The oil boom has had a ripple effect in North Dakota, with the influx of workers fueling the local economy and creating jobs not only in oil but in the construction, retail, hotel and restaurant businesses.
While the AARP story tells you that the oil industry is very hard work, it doesn’t tell you that it is very dangerous work. I recently took a trip to North Dakota on a case, and I believe there will be similar cases stemming from the injuries, including traumatic brain injury, that happen out in the oil fields.
In the past few months there are been several accidents where workers fell to their deaths from oil derricks in North Dakota. And, unfortunately, there will be more. Safety issues abound. Look at the work conditions of this industry.
McKinney, for example, works on a 136-foot-high derrick, according to the AARP Bulletin. He sometimes has a 12-hour night shift, works in sub-zero weather and is covered in oil as he toils.
I’d day he earns his $42 an hour.
I’d also say that it is pretty hazardous work.