Workplace accidents always have the tendency to cause potentially serious personal injuries requiring medical treatment and resulting in financial damages. In some industries, however, workplace injuries tend to be more common — whether that be because of the inherently dangerous nature of the job or the dangers lurking in the equipment and machinery being used.
Injuries in the oil and gas industry are one such example. In fact, drilling accidents have a much higher occurrence rate in the oil and gas industry, compared to on-the-job accidents in other industries. Back in 2003, both the CDC (Centers for Disease Control) and the U.S. Department of Labor Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) began tracking data on injuries reported in the oil and gas industry.
According to one CDC study which looked at occupational fatalities during the oil and gas boom: “During 2003–2013, the number of work-related fatalities in the oil and gas extraction industry increased 27.6%, with a total of 1,189 deaths; however, the annual occupational fatality rate significantly decreased 36.3% (p<0.05) during this 11-year period. Two-thirds of all worker fatalities were attributed to transportation incidents (479, [40.3%]) and contact with objects/equipment (308 [25.9%]). More than 50% of persons fatally injured were employed by companies that service wells (615 [51.7%]).”
The reported deaths were not the only types of fatal injuries workers experienced. Data collected by the BLS for all fatal accidents, including deaths for the period between 2003 and 2011 in the private mining industry, in which the oil and gas drilling industry falls, indicated that more than 70 percent of all major fatal accidents occurred in the oil and gas industry. It is also important to note that workers from all states are not equally affected: in fact, the vast majority of fatal oil rig injuries occur in Texas.
There are various reasons for the higher incidence of reported fatal injuries in the industry. First, working conditions tend to be difficult, sometimes extreme, in the oil and gas field. Employees are expected to work outdoors, even in severe weather, from hot summer days to wet rainy winters. Employees may be expected to work long shifts — sometimes as many as 12 to 14 hours a day for several days or even weeks at a time, with little or insufficient time off. This can lead to exhaustion from doing repetitive tasks, which also can cause unexpected accidents and injuries.
Moreover, there are both onshore and offshore drilling operations, and each poses its own set of risks. The industry commonly works with dangerous materials and equipment, which can result in explosions, fires, falls, and even being crushed by heavy machinery. Extensive head and brain injuries, back and spinal injuries, and even paralysis or death are experienced by workers on oil rigs.
If you’ve been injured on an oil rig, it is very important that you understand your legal rights. There are different laws that cover personal injuries on an oil rig — for instance, offshore drilling operation workers are often covered under the Jones Act, a federal law that covers maritime accidents. Moreover, various regulations by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration apply to the oil and gas field. State workers’ compensation laws, such as those in Texas, can also provide you with recourse so that you can recover compensation for your injuries. And state negligence and wrongful death laws, including issues of liability and damages, can also be applicable.
The presence of various laws that apply to oil rigs can make a case involving an oil rig injury very complex. Whether you were injured onshore or offshore, here in Texas or another state, it is always in your best interest to speak to a personal injury lawyer with experience in drilling rig and oil and gas industry accidents, injuries, and deaths. An experienced attorney can help you file the correct claims against all proper entities who may be liable for your injuries, and they will negotiate on your behalf toward a fair and reasonable resolution.
Workplace injury claims, particularly those involving injuries on oil rigs, tend to be complex, raising various questions of liability and damages, particularly when insurance companies are involved. The attorneys at Johnson Garcia have more than 35 years of experience in helping victims of even the most severe workplace injuries obtain sizable settlements and resolve their claims. If you’ve been injured on an oil rig or in another accident at work, call our Houston-based legal team at Johnson Garcia LLP. If the other party or their insurance company is not negotiating fairly, the personal injury attorneys at Johnson Garcia will file a lawsuit on your behalf and take your case to trial, if needed. We can be reached by phone at 832-844-6700.