Drilling for oil and gas offshore is a dangerous job. There are multiple hazards and many oil rig workers have suffered lifelong injury or even death while drilling on an offshore rig. In fact, the CDC has reported that the United States oil and gas extraction industry has a collective fatality rate of over 27 deaths for every 100,000 workers. This is seven times higher than the fatality rate for other industries in the country.
There are many things that can go wrong when drilling. Accidents are typically caused by a number of natural, technical and/or technological factors combined; Even so, there are some types of accidents that are particularly prevalent. Following is an overview of the most common oil and gas accident scenarios for your consideration.
Given the fact that drilling for oil offshore involves a great deal of transportation to and from the rig, it is not surprising that transportation accidents are the most common type of oil and gas accident. Helicopter and water vehicle accidents are particularly prevalent. Oil tanker accidents are thankfully not quite as common but they can be particularly deadly when they occur. When a large Japanese oil tanker exploded in 2014, half the crew was severely burnt even though the oil has already been offloaded before the explosion occurred. Transportation accidents are typically caused by inclement weather, equipment failure, and engine failure.
Contact with Equipment or Other Objects.
A recent analysis of onshore and offshore oil and gas drilling noted that nearly half of all fatalities in this industry are caused when workers are either caught between something or struck by something. This is hardly surprising considering the fact that there are plenty of dangerous machines and heavy equipment on any offshore rig and those who work on a rig are required to use this equipment and machinery on a daily basis. Equipment failure, tremors, hurricanes and personnel errors are common on offshore drilling rigs and these can easily cause workers to suffer serious injury or even death.
Fires and Explosions
Oil is extremely flammable so it is not surprising that fires and explosions are one of the most common oil and gas accident scenarios. Thankfully, accidents such as the one that occurred on the infamous Deepwater Horizon oil rig are not commonplace but there are plenty of oil rig fires and explosions that do cause serious injury and/or death. Many fires are caused by on-site welding and faulty or malfunctioning electrical work.
Deadly explosions can also be caused when underwater pipes crack, rupture or leak. Such accidents are typically caused by pipe material defects and/or welding defects. In 2014, a contract worker was killed while doing routine maintenance on one of Chevron’s offshore gas pipelines. A year later, two maintenance workers were injured when an offshore gas pipeline they were working on ruptured and the gas caught fire.
Slip and Fall Accidents
Slip and fall accidents are likely to cause more than just a scratch or a sprained ankle when they happen aboard an oil rig. Such accident accounts for just over 11% of all oil and gas industry deaths and should not be taken lightly. Many workers have been injured or killed when falling from an elevated area; even so, falling on the same level can be fatal as well.
While some falls are caused by severe weather conditions or other unavoidable natural causes, many slip and fall accidents occur as a result of carelessness. Furthermore, insufficient fall protection or lack of proper safety gear can cause a fall to be far more serious than it would have been otherwise.
Get Legal Help as Soon as Possible After an Accident
An offshore oil and gas accident can be a traumatic experience. You will likely need to be evacuated by helicopter to the mainland to receive proper treatment. It may take days or weeks before you are coherent enough to even think about what happened, much less assess who is at fault.
Even so, obtaining legal help immediately after an accident is imperative. A good lawyer will not only assess your case but also tell you upfront if you can sue for compensation and if so, who should be charged. In some instances, your boss may be at fault; in other cases, the fault lies with co-workers or equipment manufacturers.
If you or a loved one need legal help due to an offshore oil and gas accident, GOM Law can provide you with the specialized legal advice you need.