Many people do not realize how dangerous it is to work on an oil rig. In a single year, nearly 70 Americans died on the job. There are countless more serious injuries each year.
The inherent risk does not mean that the work can slow down. The oil industry is vital to the daily life of most Americans.
In fact, 2022 was the single biggest year ever for the oil drilling and gas extraction industry. The industry was valued at $800 billion in 2022 and grew nearly 11% per year from 2018 to 2023.
Read on for a comprehensive guide to oil rig injuries. Explore topics such as common oil rig accidents and how an oil rig attorney can help.
Why Are Oil Rigs So Dangerous?
Before diving into common accidents at work on an oil rig, it is important to understand the inherent risk. Oil rigs are massive fuel extraction facilities in the middle of the ocean.
They are completely surrounded by water and the nearest hospital is a helicopter or boat ride away. Oil rig workers are handling or in close proximity to combustible materials. There is a constant risk of explosion or fire when dealing with oil and gas.
The oil rig decks are naturally wet and slippery due to the environment. Damp conditions present a risk of serious slips and falls.
In addition, employees are using heavy-duty machinery. The use of this equipment in already hazardous conditions makes safety even more challenging.
What Are Common Oil Rig Injuries?
With these dangerous conditions, it is no surprise that many oil rig workers are injured on the job. In addition to normal workplace hazards, oil and gas extraction employees are also vulnerable to other accidents. If you suffer any of the following injuries, it is recommended to contact your oil rig lawyer.
Explosions and Fires
Since nations started drilling for oil, explosions and fires started occurring. Oil rig disasters happen far more than the government and private industry would like.
The Deepwater Horizon disaster in the Gulf of Mexico is one of the best examples. When natural gas penetrated the concrete core of the well, an enormous explosion was triggered. Eleven workers were killed and many more injured.
The fire burned for 36 hours and the environmental damage was catastrophic. Over a 5-year period, BP paid $14 billion to clean up the damage. This included nearly $7 billion to settle legal claims related to the spill.
There have been many more high-profile explosions and fires on oil rigs over the previous decades. For oil rig workers, explosions and fires are a worst-case scenario.
Besides the fatality risk, there is great potential for serious injury. Severe burns are possible as oil and gas are extremely combustible and flammable. The force of the explosion may cause physical injuries like concussions and bone fractures.
Slips and Falls
Many people do not realize how dangerous it is to work out at sea. The natural beauty of the ocean comes with harsh conditions like wind, high tides, and salt fog.
Saltwater is highly corrosive and the constantly damp conditions affect employees on a daily basis. Oil rig decks and other surfaces become slippery and leave employees vulnerable.
These conditions make slip-and-falls the most common accident aboard an oil rig. A slip or a fall can result in significant physical injury. Concussions, bone fractures, spinal injuries, and more are all possible.
There are often long-term implications from a nasty slip or fall. You may incur extensive medical diagnosis, treatment, and physical therapy. The potential for lost wages as you recover is also present.
It is the oil rig’s responsibility to mitigate safety risks. They should invest in slip-proof surfaces and handrails to help employees keep their balance. In the event that these precautions are not available, the oil rig may be negligible and legally responsible for your slip or fall.
Heavy-Duty Equipment Injuries
Naturally, oil rigs employ the use of heavy-duty equipment. This equipment is necessary to transport heavy items or is involved with the oil extraction process.
These large machines present a safety risk to employees on the rig. Compounding the risk are the tight corridors and spaces often found on an oil rig.
Workers’ bodies and limbs can get crushed by heavy-duty equipment. They may get trapped between a solid surface and the equipment. This situation is likely to result in broken bones, organ damage, or loss of limbs.
It is the rig’s responsibility to take preventative measures to avoid these injuries. This means recurring training programs to make sure the equipment is safely operated. It also means that employees have proper safety equipment like goggles, gloves, and hand tools to protect themselves.
Lifting Heavy Items
There is a lot of manual labor occurring on oil rigs. While there are some white-collar jobs, many workers are getting their hands dirty.
Workers lifting heavy items present another injury risk. Significant neck and back injuries are the byproducts of lifting something that is too heavy for one person.
Neck and back injuries can be life-altering. Beyond the cost of surgery and physical therapy, you may have long-term health implications from a back or neck issue. These injuries rob their victims of a quality of life they would have enjoyed otherwise.
The oil rig should have many precautions in place to prevent this from happening. There should be two-man lift signs for any items over a pre-determined weight. There should also be equipment available like forklifts to transport items too heavy for human transport.
Your Guide to Common Oil Rig Accidents
You now have an understanding of the many risks involved with working on an oil rig. Most injuries are preventable with proper training and occupational safeguards in place.
Despite many employers’ best intentions, injuries still occur on the regular. This is where hiring an attorney may help you. Legal representation can result in large settlements to cover medical bills and lost wages.
If you suffered oil rig injuries and are seeking financial justice, contact us today to speak with a professional.