Surrounded by the potential for explosions, serious falls, chemical leaks, and heavy machinery accidents, oilfields make for rather dangerous workplaces. When oil demands rise—and subsequent production quotas—the work environment out on an oilfield can become even more fast-paced and less careful. Unfortunately, when safety takes a back seat to productivity and profit, devastating oilfield accidents, injuries, and fatalities can be the result.
As many as 4,000 U.S. oilfield workers are injured in workplace accidents each year, according to a report from the U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), a federal agency that regulates workplace health and safety. Approximately 100 workers are killed annually. These numbers, while dire, have actually improved in recent years. Between 2003 and 2010, the on-the-job fatality rate for workers in the oil and gas extraction industry was positively dismal: seven times higher than the fatality rate for all industries.
Despite the improvements in oilfield workplace safety, the oil and gas extraction industry has a long way to go before workers can truly feel safe on the job.
Common Types and Causes of Oilfield Accidents
Oilfield workers encounter a wide range of accidents and dangerous scenarios. Some of the most common types of oilfield accidents include:
- Oil and gas truck accidents
- Defective or malfunctioning equipment
- Slip-and-fall accidents
- Rig, deck, and scaffolding collapses
- Weather-related incidents
The specific causes for each of these accidents can range from over-pressurized containers and sparks igniting pressurized gas to defective or poorly-maintained vehicles and equipment. However, to find the root causes of these and other oilfield accidents, one must dig a little deeper.
Often, the primary causes of oilfield workplace accidents and injuries are:
- Insufficient training
- A hurried work environment
- Deficient workplace safety procedures
Oilfields are high-pressure, extreme work environments that require workers to perform at their best, day in and day out. Even a seemingly small mistake can have grave consequences, leading to accidents, injuries, deaths, and even environmental catastrophes.
Common Oilfield Accident Injuries
Oilfield workers are treated for a number of on-the-job injuries each year, many of which are potentially avoidable when care is exercised and safety procedures are followed to the letter.
Some of the most common oilfield accident injuries include:
- Severe burns
- Concussions and other traumatic brain injuries (TBIs)
- Broken bones
- Hearing loss
- Neck, shoulder and back injuries
- Eye injuries, including vision or eye loss
- Exposure to hazardous chemicals
- Spinal injuries
- Scarring and disfigurement
Oilfield Accident Personal Injury and Wrongful Death Lawsuits
Oilfield workers who are injured on the job can often file a personal injury lawsuit in civil court and seek a financial award for accident-related expenses and damages, usually from their employer or, in cases involving defective vehicles or equipment, a manufacturer. Accident victims can pursue compensation for a wide range of losses, including medical bills, lost wages, loss of earning potential, pain and suffering, and more.
Additionally, family members of workers killed in oilfield accidents can file wrongful death lawsuits and fight for damages, as well as the financial and emotional support their deceased loved ones would have provided. Compensation sought in wrongful death cases often includes funeral and burial expenses, loss of companionship, loss of consortium (for surviving spouses), loss of care and guidance, mental anguish, and emotional pain and suffering.
Were You Injured in an Oilfield Accident?
If you were seriously injured or someone you love was killed in an oilfield accident, don't let the opportunity to take legal action pass you by. The time you have for filing a personal injury oilfield accident lawsuit, as defined by statute of limitation laws, may be shorter than you think.
Contact McGartland Law today to discuss the details of your case and schedule a free initial consultation.