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The Top Five Causes of Offshore Oil Rig Accidents


Posted in High Seas, High Risk: Offshore Injury on August 22, 2018

The offshore oil and gas industry brings in a lot of money and employment opportunities for the United States. Although the industry creates many jobs for workers along the Gulf Coast and throughout Texas, the hazardous nature of the maritime industry can result in severe injuries or even death.

Offshore work on oil rigs, gas wells, and other vessels can put workers’ lives on the line. There is no forgetting the tragic Deepwater Horizon Explosion in the Gulf of Mexico. Not only did the oil rig accident cause drastic contamination of the surrounding waters, it also left 11 crew members dead and 16 others severely injured.

As per the Centers for Disease and Control Prevention, workers in this field are seven times more prone to work-related deaths than in any other job. Due to the technical nature of the job and the harsh environment, each workday for an oil and gas industry worker can be their last.

If you or a loved one have suffered an offshore injury or wrongful death, the Gulf Coast attorneys at Lapeze & Johns have over 30 years of combined experience and extensive knowledge of maritime laws to offer you protection.

Every day, maritime workers face the heavy duty labor of technical machines and equipment abroad vessels with harsh conditions.

The most frequent injuries that oil rig workers suffer from include:

  • Broken bones or loss of limb(s)
  • Respiratory problems from inhalation of hazardous substances
  • Burns, rashes, or allergic reactions
  • Cuts, scrapes, or lacerations
  • Spinal cord injury and damage
  • Brain or head injuries resulting in trauma

Every individual case is different and injuries can range in levels of severity; temporary injuries can result in the loss of work time and earnings. The most serious accidents can result in permanent injuries and a lifetime of health problems.

Death is always the worst case scenario, and unfortunately, it is not extremely rare under the given work circumstances.

What makes work in the oil and gas industry so risky?

There are multiple reasons that accidents and injuries can occur. In some instances, an employer’s negligence, lack of safety measures, or incomplete training can lead to a major mistake that ends in tragedy.

Below you will find some of the most common causes of oil rig injury or death.

The Top 5 Causes of Oil Rig Injury and Death

1. Transportation to Rigs
Oil rig industry workers rely heavily on helicopters and other water transportation to get to rig locations. Recent reports of the CDC confirm that transportation accidents are the primary cause of deaths and injuries in the industry but especially in air transportation. Many of these accidents are a result of mechanical mishaps and weather conditions that can make travel dangerous.

2. Machinery or Object Accidents
The maritime oil and gas industry requires workers to use heavy-duty work machines to extract oil and other tasks. Working around such machinery and objects aboard a maritime vessel can pose many dangers such as falling and shifting objects. On top of that, employees that are inadequately trained and fail to meet safety standards pose a threat to themselves and other members when using this equipment.

The CDC has reported that 16 percent of all maritime work-related deaths between 2003 to 2013 were caused by contact with objects or equipment.

3. Fire Hazards and Blowouts
There is an array of hazards aboard the maritime vessels that can pose risks to workers. Blowouts such as the one that caused the Deepwater Horizon explosion are common because of all the flammable materials aboard.

Fires and explosions occur due to possible leaks. Environmental conditions along with employer or employee negligence can result in a deadly explosion or fire.

4. Substance and Chemical Exposure
Oil rig industry workers can come in contact with a variety of substances throughout a day’s work such as the oil that is drilled, fluids used for drilling, or other hazardous chemicals. Exposure to these substances can result in a variety of bodily reactions including allergic reactions, burns, rashes, respiratory problems, injury to internal organs, or even asphyxiation.

5. Physical Demands
Oil rig work is physically demanding. Employers that fail to inspect and adequately secure the environment put their employees in the face of danger. Workers can fall off high -level decks to the floors of the vessel or even straight into the waters below.

Surfaces can get slippery with all the water splashing around. Workers can stumble upon equipment and objects that are not fastened or properly in place.

When floors are not cleaned, surfaces are not secured, and fall protection is not in place, then the vessel is a hazard to all workers.

Laws and Compensation

The conditions of offshore oil and gas industry work are dangerous and can easily result in severe injuries or death. Maritime law protects offshore workers from the conditions and accidents they may face.

There are two specific laws known as the Jones Act and the Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act.

Under the Jones Act, seamen involved in accidents aboard offshore rigs and vessels can file claims against employees, captains, or owners of the vessel if safety was compromised and working conditions caused harm.

Worker compensation and LHWCA are the legal protections offered to employees that were injured at stationary rigs and wells.

Have you suffered severe injuries or lost a loved one to an offshore oil rig accident? The Texas and Gulf Coast lawyers at Lapeze & Johns are experts in maritime law and can help you get the full compensation you deserve for your suffering.

The oil and gas industry creates hundreds of thousands of jobs in the US but results in a horrific number of severe accidents and deaths. No maritime worker should lose their life at work.

Consult our maritime attorneys at Lapeze and Johns today at 713.739.1010 to learn how we can help you obtain the justice you deserve. With a 98% success rate and over $380 million collected for our clients, trust in our ability to fight hard for you and your family.