Oil rig explosions don’t happen every day, but when they do, they are deadly. Take, for instance, the 2010 Deepwater Horizon blowout that killed 11 people and severely injured dozens more when a sudden burst of natural gas exploded through a concrete core of the well and caused the semi sub to explode.
Offshore oil and gas drilling and servicing accidents don’t always involve major headline grabbing explosions and they aren’t always offshore, either
. There are lots of ways oil and gas workers can get injured or killed on the job because they involve lots of different types of equipment, materials and situations and can happen in a variety of locations: offshore on a jack-up rig, a platform, a semisub (semi-submersible rig), or a drillship deep in the waters of the Gulf of Mexico – this industry involves some of the most dangerous employment out there.
From motor vehicle crashes of trucks carrying flammable gas, to electrocutions, falls from platforms, rig explosions, deep water drilling drownings, crane crashes and many more potential horror scenarios – there are innumerable ways oil and gas workers can get life-altering injuries every day they show up for work.
If you or a loved one were hurt or killed in an oil or gas-related accident you may have a legal cause of action
for workers’ compensation, an action against your employer and/or a third-party claim against someone other than your employer or coworker
Here is a list of some of the most common ways oil and gas workers get seriously injured or killed on the job:
- Motor vehicle accidents: Workers and equipment have to be moved to and from well sites, and since wells are often in faraway areas, workers often have to drive long distances to reach them. According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of oil and gas extraction worker fatalities.
- Struck-By/ Caught-In/ Caught-Between: It’s as scary as it sounds and it’s even more common. Workers can be put in these kinds of dangerous situations while moving vehicles or equipment, because a piece of equipment falls on them, a crane knocks into them (or something near them), because of their proximity to high-pressure lines, or a dozen other reasons. Then there are all the hazards presented by rotating wellhead equipment, pumps, compressors, catheads, hoist blocks, belt wheels, conveyors and other types of machinery that can result in a major injury or death if one thing goes wrong. According to OSHA, three out of five on-site deaths in oil and gas extraction work happen because of a struck-by/caught -in/caught-between hazard.
- Explosions and Fires: Workers in the oil and gas industries work in high-temperature environments, which have their own risks like dehydration and heat stroke. They also face the risk of fire and explosion because of flammable vapors, gases and other materials they are in contact with. Gases, vapors and hydrogen sulfide can be released from wells, trucks, production equipment or surface equipment like tanks and shale shakers. These oils, gases and flammable substances can also catch fire because of a static current, an electrical energy outlet, a cigarette, lightning, sparks from other equipment like welding tools, hot surfaces, and heat from friction.
- Falls: A worker falling from an elevated surface like a mast or drilling platform can cause life-altering, or fatal, injuries. Even though employers are supposed to have fall protections, sometimes oil and gas companies cut corners in order to save money and that can end up costing someone’s life.
- Confined Spaces: Oil and gas workers are required to be in confined spaces for periods of time, including petroleum and other storage tanks, mud pits, reserve pits, other excavated areas, sand storage containers, and other confined spaces near a wellhead. They may be exposed to fires or explosions from flammable gases or be inhaling unsafe fumes for prolonged periods of time.
- Other injuries: There are so many things that can go wrong in an oil and gas drilling site the list is almost endless. Faulty protective equipment, lack of personnel training, and even ergonomic injuries from heavy lifting, bending, reaching, pushing, pulling and repetitive task work can put a major, even career-ending, strain on a worker’s body. Similarly, electrical, hydraulic, or other uncontrolled energy can maim or kill a worker.
Some oil and gas accidents like Deepwater Horizon make headlines. But an oil rig or fixed platform doesn’t have to explode in order for an injured worker or their family to have a legal cause of action.
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Contact our experienced oil and gas personal injury attorneys at Jim Adler & Associates
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