Oil Field Accidents: Important Steps After a Mishap

When employees work on an oil-drilling rig, they are subject to a number of dangerous variables, which could compromise safety. Of course, while employees expect some hazards on the worksite, this does not mean that they anticipate harm and injury. Because oil fields are innately dangerous, it is especially important to remain safety-conscious on the job.

Workers on an oil field must be constantly aware of the surroundings and happenings. Being mindful and watching out for others are crucial to a safe working environment. Moreover, it is important that workers know how to act and respond after an accident. First, however, one should understand the basics to oil rig safety. The following issues frequently pose a risk on the worksite.

Pipes

Pipes utilized in oil drilling weigh over 1,000 pounds. In fact, the weight of pipes is similar to a small vehicle. This is the case for a 12-foot section of a six-inch pipe, which is frequently used in the industry. These pipes may not appear dangerous; however, if they move in transit or during loading or lifting operations, lives may be at risk. As a result, workers on an oil field should be cognizant of their hands, feet and other limbs when moving.

Height

The elevation of an oil rig can fluctuate, as some heights reach well above 50 feet. It is common for workers to climb to such heights to complete various work tasks. As a result, before climbing a ladder, employees should lock into the requisite fall safety equipment and stay secured in such until reaching the ground. Fall accidents frequently occur when workers remove their fall protection as they near the ground. Yet, there is no justification for disconnecting fall protection - regardless of how uncomfortable it may be.

Many individuals believe that fires or explosions are the most frequent types of oil field accidents; however, this is not necessarily true. Statistics suggests that injuries that transpire on an oil derrick are the result of falling objects or falls.

High-pressure lines

High-pressure lines are utilized in the drilling process, with pressures reaching as high as 5,000 psi. Moreover, failures in a ball or line valve at that level can be disastrous. At the least, employees on an oil field should wear gloves and appropriate eye protection when completing tasks near high-pressure lines.

Fluids

All fluids on an oil field should be deemed flammable (even if they are not). Several burn injuries have been caused by flowing fluids from oil drilling activities, which appeared to be water. This is because of the chemicals contained in the fluid. Workers should be mindful of surrounding fluids, and should avoid positions where spraying may occur from the well. Moreover, employees should be aware of the locations of fire blankets and extinguishers. Also, rig workers should know how to use fire extinguishing equipment in case of a fire.

Many issues can lead to oil field accidents

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that in 2008, approximately 120 fatal work-related injuries occurred in the oil and gas extraction industry. In that year, the top three fatal issues concerned transportation, equipment and contact with objects, and explosions and fires. However, dangers on the worksite can vary significantly. Moreover, even after years of trying to reduce different types of accidents and make the oil field industry safe, the business maintains its reputation as one of the most dangerous places to work. For this reason, understanding some of the most typical injury hazards on oil rigs places workers on notice of such issues and allows them to be aware at the start of the working day.

How to prevent an injurious accident

Of course, the first step to safety is prevention. Accidents generally occur when worksite employees are not acting in accordance with standard safety regulations or guidelines. For this reason, workers should always do the following:

  • Employees should follow workplace regulations and standard safety procedures.
  • Workers should wear protective safety gear at all times.
  • Oil rig employees should use respirators if noxious gases are foreseeable.
  • Those on the field should keep in communication with other workers.
  • Employees should only use equipment in which there has been training.
  • Gas and oil leaks should be immediately controlled when drilling.
  • Workers should ensure that clothing is free of flammable substances. If clothing is exposed to oil, workers should remove themselves from drilling and change attire. This safety measure also applies to footwear and gloves.

Staying alert will help prevent the chance of an injurious or deadly accident. Workers should contact a supervisor immediately if something ensues.

What to do after an accident

If an oil rig accident does occur, workers should act quickly. It is best to do the following:

  • Employees should notify a supervisor of what has happened.
  • Those in need of medical assistance should seek attention at the earliest convenience.
  • Employees — especially those that have been injured—should begin documenting everything. With a camera, workers can take photographs of the incident location from varying angles.
  • It also helps to document any witness statements regarding the accident. Employees should gather names, as well as all contact information.

After these steps are complete, those in need of additional assistance should contact an oil rig accident attorney. If employees fail to follow some of the above mentioned tips, they could forfeit their right to recovery. It helps to remember these steps and ensure that safety is a part of everyday tasks.

Compensation after an accident: The importance of contacting an attorney

At the end of the day, even when precautions are taken, accidents occur. Oil field accidents can result in very egregious injuries, including broken bones, a spinal cord injury, a brain injury, burns and fractured bones. Pursuant to an oil rig accident, the effects of such injuries can last a lifetime. As a result, victims on the worksite deserve comprehensive recovery for their losses and suffering.

When a catastrophe ensues, there are options for those injured on the job. Varied sources of compensation can help recompense those in need of financial assistance after a harmful accident. The problem is that drilling companies will tell injured oil field employees that their only option for recovery is via the workers' compensation system. While the workers' compensation system does provide financial support, oil rig workers may have supplemental sources of reparation when their injuries occurred as a result of negligent third parties.

The workers' compensation system provides support only for the out-of-pocket costs of medical rehabilitation, care, disability and lost wages. However, even in such cases, the system may not adequately support injured employees for the aforementioned costs. On the other hand, when an oil field injury results from the negligence of another party, the compensation pool becomes much larger. Injured workers may obtain comprehensive recovery for their financial losses, as well as recovery for pain and suffering.

If you have been injured on an oil rig accident, it is imperative to seek legal assistance. There are many recovery benefits available under the personal injury law system; however, the process of retaining assistance can be complex and overwhelming. Fortunately, a seasoned legal professional can help guide you through your options after an accident.