Fatigue Is a Common Factor in Oil Field Accidents

In the fields and beyond, work on the frontlines of the oil and gas extraction industry is inherently dangerous. While the jobs often provide lucrative increases to employees' bank accounts, they involved complex and hazardous equipment. Consequently, there's little-to-no room for error, and even a seemingly small mistake can have disastrous consequences.

sleepy_workerDue to the high potential for serious accidents, oil field work requires alertness and precision from every person on the job.

Unfortunately, 24-hour production demands, shifts that last 12 hours or longer, and extended commutes to and from the job site can leave oil field workers absolutely exhausted. These factors can lead to devastating fatigue-related accidents.

If you were injured—or lost a loved one—in an oil field accident, you may be entitled to compensation. Here's what you need to know about how fatigue can cause or contribute to horrific accidents in the oil and gas extraction industry.

How Fatigue Affects Performance

Getting enough sleep is vitally important to both cognitive functioning and physical performance, especially in an industrial workplace setting. In fact, according to the National Sleep Foundation (NSF), extremely fatigued workers are 70 percent more likely to be involved in an industrial accident than well-rested workers.

Excessive fatigue can cause a number of dangerous symptoms, such as:

  • Poor judgment
  • Slowed reaction time
  • Impaired vision
  • Difficulty processing information
  • Problems with short-term memory
  • Decreased alertness
  • Balance and coordination issues
  • Moodiness
  • Increased aggression
  • “Microsleeps,” which are temporary and unintended losses of consciousness that can last for up to 30 seconds

The NSF recommends that adults get between seven and nine hours of sleep each night. If people regularly get less than the ideal amount of sleep, they can build up what is known as a “sleep debt.” While getting extra sleep can, in some cases, help overcome a sleep debt, it may not be able to reverse the negative effects of long-term sleep deprivation.

Fatigue-Related Accidents on the Oil Fields

An inherently dangerous environment that demands precision and accuracy is probably the last place anyone would want to experience fatigue-related symptoms such as poor judgment or slowed reaction time.

When such symptoms strike, they can lead to serious accidents, injuries, and even deaths. Fatigue can play a role in a number of the common types of accidents that occur on the oil fields, including fires, explosions, falls, and equipment issues.

Fatigue-Related Vehicle Accidents Among Oil Field Workers

While some people might be shocked to learn that motor vehicle accidents are the leading cause of death for workers in the oil and gas extraction industry, it really isn't all that surprising. After all, research from both the NSF and the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety shows that driving while drowsy can be just as impairing as driving under the influence of alcohol.

At the end of a long shift at a remote drilling site, workers often have an extensive commute ahead of them; and the reward for making it home safely is getting up and doing it all again the next day. Oil and gas transportation workers—who sometimes work shifts up to 24 hours long—and employees from well-servicing companies are most at risk of being involved in fatigue-related motor vehicle accidents.

Do You Need an Oil Field Accident Attorney?

Sometimes proving that fatigue played a role in an oil field accident can be difficult. Other times, factors such as a driver failing to apply the brakes to prevent a collision serves as a valuable clue that fatigue may be to blame.

If you were injured or lost a loved one in an oil field accident that you suspect was caused by another oil field worker's excessive sleepiness on the job, the award-winning attorneys with McGartland Law Firm can help fight for the compensation you deserve. Contact McGartland Law Firm today to schedule an appointment for a free initial case analysis.