Owing to the transformation of the biomedical model of health, more and more professionals pay close attention to the occupational social psychological factors, such as occupational stress. Due to the socioeconomic impact of occupational stress and the petroleum workers stationed in the unique environment in Xinjiang, a cross-sectional study was carried out between May and December 2016 to investigate the relationship between occupational stress and demographic characteristics. A total of 1480 workers were selected. Occupational stress was evaluated with the Occupational Stress Inventory-Revised Edition. The findings of the present study revealed that the values of the Occupational Roles Questionnaire results (t = 9.266, P < .001) and Personal Strain Questionnaire results (t = 21.381, P < .001) were found to be higher than the national normal. Personal Resources Questionnaire values (t = −17.575, P < .001) were found to be lower than the national normal in petroleum workers stationed in the arid desert, and suggested a strong correlation between occupational stress and demographic characteristics. These data provide evidence that different demographic characteristics are associated with different occupational stress levels in petroleum workers stationed in the arid desert.