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How Dangerous Is Oil Field Work?
Everything You Should Know

Working in an oilfield can be extremely rewarding and financially lucrative. However, it’s also dangerous work. Although the oil and gas industries are regulated by federal and state laws, oilfield workers are often hurt. Sadly, oil field accidents can be extremely serious and even fatal.
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C.L. Mike Schmidt Published by C.L. Mike Schmidt

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Why is Work in the Oil and Gas Industry So Dangerous?

Oil field workers are constantly exposed to heavy equipment, heights, chemicals including hydrogen sulfide, moving vehicles, and other dangerous equipment. They must often deal with bad weather conditions, including high winds, strong storms, freezing temperatures, and intense sunlight.

Workers in the oil and gas industries also work long hours -- in some jobs, oilfield workers may work 7 to 14 days in a row before getting a day off, Bureau of Labor Statistics showed. They may be pressured by oil industry employers to do more work in less time. All of these things can lead to accidents that result in serious injuries and, sadly, fatalities.

Derrick Operators

Types of Injuries in Oilfield Jobs

There are many different types of oil drilling accidents. These may involve:

  • Injuries from heavy equipment or other equipment
  • Falls from oil derricks
  • Slip and fall accidents
  • Pipeline blowouts
  • Toppling freight from dangerous machinery
  • Injuries from falling tools or pipes
  • Fatal injuries and accidents
  • And more

Related Article: Most Common Oil Rig Injuries


Oilfield Workers Labor Statistics

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and as reported by the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration, the overall rate of fatality for workers on oil rigs and in oil fields is 7 times higher than that of other industries.

Fires, explosions, falls from rigs, tools that fall from heights and hit workers below, equipment malfunctions, driving accidents, and other dangers all contribute to oil worker injuries and deaths. Approximately 100 fatal work injuries occur on the job each year and thousands more are injured, according to BLS statistics.

Other statistics from OSHA on oilfield accidents and oil field injuries include:

  • Nearly 2/3 of the citations from 2008 to 2017 were deemed to be so hazardous they were likely to cause death or serious physical injury.
  • Three percent of the citations were repeat citations, meaning the oil companies had prior knowledge of the hazards and failed to do anything.
  • OSHA also investigated 552 accidents, which led to at least one death.

OSHA is working to increase its enforcement efforts in dangerous situations, which is complicated by the fact that many companies in the “upstream” industry sector (including refineries, chemical plants, and other operators at high risk for fires, chemical leaks, and explosions) are not required to comply with certain OSHA standards.

Drilling contractors assert that some OSHA rules don’t improve safety while increasing regulatory burdens. Safety advocates argue the standards should be enforced. David Michaels, a former head of OSHA, says that trade organizations that tout the low injury rates often don’t fully report their injuries – just their fatalities.

Wrongful death in the oilfield industry can be, in a word, gruesome. In one case of wrongful death reported in the series, a man was killed when a cable broke and he was crushed to death. His family is claiming that the company “had been told that the severed cable was in need of repair.”

Related Article: Major Causes Oil of Rig Explosion

Oil field workers

What is the Most Dangerous Job on an Oil Rig?

Of all offshore rig workers, roustabouts have one of the most dangerous jobs. They’re usually the least experienced or newest crew members, and their initial responsibilities may require minimal training.

Their duties will vary widely depending on the day and their skill level, with the risk increasing as they gain more experience and begin performing more complex jobs. Roustabouts are often at risk of death and danger from slipping and falling, being struck by swinging loads or flying objects, fatigue, or being exposed to dangerous chemicals or equipment.

Related Article: Oil Rig Injuries Lawsuit & Lawyer

What Should I Do if I'm Involved in an Oilfield Accident?

If you sustain an injury from an oilfield work accident, it is important to seek medical attention as quickly as possible to prevent death. It is also important that workers immediately notify their supervisor. You need to inform companies of the dangers and hazards within 40 days to help ensure you can recover any workers' compensation benefits you may be entitled to.

It is also important to consider involving a Texas attorney as early in the process as possible. You may have the right to recover a significant amount of financial compensation, and an oil field injury attorney can ensure that all potential resources are looked at to maximize your recovery.

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The law firm of Schmidt & Clark, LLP, is dedicated to protecting the rights of the American oil and gas worker and is one of the only firms willing to handle oilfield work litigation throughout the entire United States.

Again, if you or a loved one has been seriously injured or killed in an oil field accident, you should contact our oil field accident lawyers immediately by using the form below or calling our law firm toll-free 24 hrs/day by dialing (866) 588-0600 for a free consultation and legal advice.

Injured workers may be able to recover compensation for medical bills from an oil company in a lawsuit and our oil field injury lawyers can help.