Common Conditions in Offshore Oil Rig Accidents
Written by AskTheLawyers.com™ on behalf of Marc Lenahan with Lenahan Law Firm.
Oil rigs are inherently dangerous environments, even when compared to the hazards associated with drilling on land. It is imperative for every old rig worker, supervisor, manager, and employer to understand, practice, and enforce industry safety regulations.
Oil rig accidents can be particularly severe, and they can result in serious injuries, medical bills, lost wages, and more. If you or a loved one have suffered from unsafe conditions aboard an oil rig, reach out to a workplace injury attorney to discuss your options for physical and financial recovery.
Conditions commonly associated with oil rig injuries include the following:
- Severe sea storms: Not all storms are sea storms; sea storms generally involve dangerously high winds and towering waves. Even when sea storms can be predicted, machinery and other heavy equipment cannot be moved ashore to safety. This means that the oil rig, equipment, and its workers are all at high risk during one of these events. Severe sea storms are also a common cause of oil spills, which damage not only the rig and workers but people living on land as well.
- Inclement weather: Any kind of harsh weather condition can create a dangerous environment aboard an oil rig. Extreme cold, extreme heat, and high winds can all contribute to a myriad of dangerous situations for oil rig workers. Slip-and-falls are one of the most common injuries in any workplace, and are particularly dangerous aboard an oil rig where many surfaces are wet, and workers often have to stand against heavy winds and whatever objects that wind has picked up.
- Explosions: In most cases, explosions aboard oil rigs occur due to negligence; failing to properly maintain essential equipment or follow safety regulation can result in explosions, or fires which lead to explosions.
- Fires: This is a serious concern aboard any oil rig or ship. Fires can be difficult to put out aboard an oil rig, and with nowhere for the flames to go, can be all-consuming. Even a small fire can spell disaster for an oil rig, even if it does not lead to an explosion.
- Blowout: Blowouts are unique to the oil and gas industry and occur when the pressure in an oil or gas well builds to such a point that the contents explode out of the well. Blowouts are intense and devastating, regardless of where they occur and despite modern pressure control devices.
- Falls and falling objects: Oil rigs are built at extreme heights to protect them from high waves; however, this means that workers are also operating at extreme heights. Falling from any height is dangerous, and with the added risk of other objects falling on top of you, the danger is only exacerbated. Being struck by a falling object is considered one of the four top causes of workplace deaths according to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA).
- Machinery: This risk is present not only on oil rigs, but on oilfields and in other work environments as well. When machinery malfunctions, is not properly used, or is not properly maintained, serious accidents can occur.
- Fatigue: The shifts that oil rig workers face are intimidating; they work significantly longer-than-average shifts and for one to two weeks at a time. When people are tired, their reflexes and critical thinking skills take a hit, often resulting in dangerous situations they might have avoided if they were rested.
Oil rig employers, managers, and supervisors are required to guard against these and other dangerous conditions by following industry safety protocol. When safety is not the primary concern aboard an oil rig, the results can be disastrous, particularly for oil rig workers. If you have been injured aboard an oil rig due to unsafe conditions or another party’s negligence, talk to a workplace injury attorney as soon as possible.