Drilling for Oil is One of the Most Hazardous Jobs in the United States
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), workers in the drilling industry have some of the most hazardous jobs in the entire United States. This type of work involves operating heavy machinery. Machinery that has to be inspected, repaired, and supervised at all times. Just one slip can result in an accident.
At any moment, countless things can go wrong when drilling for oil. Workers are expected to do their jobs for 12 hours a day for up to 2 weeks. Not only is this exhausting, but the job comes with other inherent dangers.
Even though employers are obligated to make work conditions as safe as possible, navigating the deck can quickly turn disastrous. Seamen are often required to handle combustible materials that could result in an oil rig explosion.
Serious accidents like oil rig explosions can quickly become catastrophic when they occur. Although large disasters are usually averted, even more, minor accidents can be devastating. Injured oilfield workers are at high risk of spinal cord injuries, traumatic brain injuries, and various other catastrophic injuries.
The Deepwater Horizon oil spill, also known as the Gulf Coast of Mexico oil spill, was the largest marine oil spill in history, caused by an April 20, 2010, explosion on the Deepwater Horizon -- located in the Gulf of Mexico, approximately 41 miles (66 km) off the coast of Louisiana—and its subsequent sinking on April 22.
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The 5 Most Common Types of Injuries in the Oil and Gas Industry
The gas industry and oil industry are lucrative, dangerous fields of work. A difficult or dangerous field job site means a need for tough, specialized employees that should be highly valued for their unique labor skills; however, this isn’t always the case.
Unfortunately, injuries resulting from offshore rig accidents or oil rig explosions are common due to the fast-paced nature of the work and the lack of safeguards for the sake of productivity. What follows are the most common types of accidents which lead to injured workers.
1. Fire and Explosion Injuries on Oil Rigs
Since oil rigs deal with flammable oil and materials like hydrogen sulfide gas, burn injuries resulting from fires and explosions are extremely common.
If breakers are not properly maintained, defective equipment is allowed to become outdated, or fire safety protocols are lax because worker protection isn’t being prioritized, an oil rig explosion is practically inevitable. Burns can be disfiguring and may lead to the loss of a limb or a loss of range of motion.
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2. Transportation Injuries
Back or neck injuries are caused by lifting heavy machinery or equipment, with or without adequate support like a back brace or belt. Being ordered to move something quickly could lead to injuries like sprains that worsen every time you move, or herniated discs that could cause long-term disability.
The Merchant Marine Act of 1920, known as the Jones Act, is a federal statute establishing support for the development and maintenance of a merchant marine in order to support commercial activity and serve as a naval auxiliary in times of war or national emergency (See Jones Act 46 USC § 50101).
3. Occupational Exposure to Oil Rig Accidents
Exposure to toxic chemicals, fumes, or materials at work can cause damage to your lungs, eyes, skin, and/or brain.
The potentially harmful substances on an offshore rig can include crude oil, drilling fluids, and chemical solvents. Ingesting or coming into contact with these chemicals could cause allergic reactions, rashes, chemical burns, respiratory problems (including asthma attacks), and possible asphyxiation. An interruption to one’s ability to breathe can quickly result in brain damage as well.
As an oil rig worker, you should be outfitted with gas masks and protective gear whenever you’re tasked with interacting with chemicals directly or indirectly.
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4. Amputations, Lacerations, and Crushing Incidents
A severe laceration (deep tissue cut or tear), amputated finger/toe/limb, head trauma, or crushing personal injury to the head, limb, or body can be extremely traumatic. Whether caused by interacting with hydraulic machinery or being hit by a falling instrument, these injuries can be profound and may mean that you can never work a manual labor job again.
According to EHS Today, “hand and finger injuries make up nearly 50% of incidents in the gas and oil industry” and at some facilities, up to 80% of all their recordable incidents.
5. Offshore Oil Rig Deaths
An oil platform death can occur at sea and even after the employee is back on land. A post-injury or post-surgical infection is one example. Another is what’s called “dry drowning,” where the ingestion of water through the mouth and/or nose, though it never reaches the lungs, nevertheless causes a spasm that makes the airway close up.
What Should I Do After an Accident
If you were injured in a drilling rig accident, you should take three crucial steps before considering other factors. First, seek medical care. Second, inform your employer of the incident. Third, talk to an attorney.
Taking each of these steps will help you protect your health, eligibility for compensation, and legal rights. Working on an oil or gas drilling crew may be dangerous, but this does not limit your right to compensation for your injuries.
At Schmidt & Clark, LLP, our experienced attorneys are here to ensure workers injured get the medical costs and support they need after serious accidents and injuries on offshore environments and onshore drilling rigs. We've successfully represented clients and recovered billions of dollars in compensation and are ready to see how we can help you with a free consultation.
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Why You Need an Experienced Oil Rig Attorney
No matter what the companies and their lawyers may tell you after an accident or an oil rig explosion, it’s important to understand that they are looking out for themselves and their bottom lines.
Their priority and focus is to save the company as much money as possible by paying you and your family member as little money as possible by preventing you from recovering damages in a personal injury lawsuit that you’d be legally entitled to if you had your own injury lawyer.
See all the personal injury and accident cases our lawyers have taken on.
Get a Free Oil Rig Accident Lawsuit Evaluation With Our Attorneys
The law offices of Schmidt & Clark, LLP are dedicated to protecting the rights of the American oil and gas worker and is one of the only firms willing to handle this type of complex litigation throughout the entire United States.
Again, if you or a loved one has been seriously injured or killed in an oil rig accident, you should contact an oil rig accident attorney immediately by using the form below or calling us toll-free 24 hours/day by dialing (866) 588-0600 for a free consultation.
You may be able to recover compensation for lost wages from an oil company in a lawsuit and our oil field injury lawyers can help.