Scenes, character, a human voice and the first person soften and enliven the investigative approach in this piece about gruesome deaths on Western oil and gas fields. Lacking clear statistical evidence, Ring builds his case against the industry through narrative:

“Death in the Western oil and gas fields is a story best told through people, rather than statistics, partly because the stats are, as even OSHA might say, inadequate. No one can know exactly how dangerous this industry is, compared to others, because the record-keeping is anything but exact.”

Ring reconstructs the stories of workers who were injured or died. The result is a picture of a hellish world. We appreciated that Ring set the stories in the context of the often anti-regulation, every-man-for-himself culture of the West. In this way he paints a more complete and useful picture. All told, it’s a persuasive case for a harder look by officialdom.

(One quibble: We found the use of physical detail in painting scenes—a catalog of objects in a room, for example—excessive at times. Such status detail can provide important information, of course, but can also be over-used and break momentum.)

Read “Disposable Workers of the Oil and Gas Fields,” by Ray Ring

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