Personal injury attorneys understand the hazards and dangers oilfield workers face each day. This is especially the case in Texas, which is the nation’s leading producer of natural gas and crude oil. In fact, in 2020, Texas was responsible for 43% of crude oil production and 26% of natural gas production in the U.S.
With such high production levels, mistakes happen, leading to accidents, injuries, and fatalities for workers and others. For those who are injured by an oilfield accident, it’s smart to contact personal injury attorneys from The Burkett Law Firm for help. They can review your case to determine if you can recover compensation.
The Dangers of Working in the Oilfield
Drilling oil is a dangerous job. Oilfield accidents and fatalities are common in Texas and across the country. In fact, the gas and oil industry has some of the leading rates of work-related accidents, injuries, and deaths. While OSHA penalizes companies that violate the rules and regulations in place, accidents still occur. When an accident or fatality occurs, OSHA will investigate the cause and may impose penalties and fines.
In most situations, the big oil and gas companies contest the findings of OSHA’s investigations, and for the sake of hazard reduction, OSHA often reduces fines and dismisses penalties.
Even if the fines and penalties are dismissed, injured workers and families of workers killed while working can contact our personal injury attorneys at The Burkett Law Firm to discuss your situation and your right to recover compensation.
One way to reduce oilfield accidents, injuries, and fatalities is to know some of the most common causes. These have been described here.
The Most Common Oilfield Accidents in Texas
There are several reasons oil and gas workers in Texas experience such a high rate of injuries. Major oilfield accidents can occur because of a problem with the land or structures or may be caused by human error and defective drilling equipment. Some of the most common oilfield accidents seen in Texas include:
While there are several hazards related to controlled explosions and drilling, vehicle accidents are among the top causes of oil worker fatalities. It’s estimated that four out of every 10 oilfield workers who are killed die due to car accidents as they travel to and from their job site.
Since oilfield workers must drive to the drill site where they work, and because many of these are found in rural areas, workers face long commutes. Also, traffic guidelines in many rural areas aren’t enforced as much as in busier cities. These factors contribute to the high number of car accident injuries and fatalities for oilfield workers. Additionally, it isn’t unusual for oilfield workers to be fatigued as they drive to or from work, which can also cause these accidents.
If you are injured in a car accident traveling to or from the oilfield or if your loved one passes away because of a transportation-related accident, our personal injury lawyers can help.
Explosions and Fires
It’s a well-known fact that gas and oil are highly flammable substances. This leaves workers at risk of experiencing serious injuries after a fire or explosion at or near their workplace.
Some of the main causes of explosions in the oil and gas industry include heat or sparks from various sources, including power tools, vapors, cigarettes, gas, welding, static and friction ignite flammable hydrogen sulfide, open flames, electric sparks, and lighting. It’s not uncommon for flammable substances to escape from surface equipment, like tanks, trucks, wells, and shakers, without being detected.
Even a single spark from someone smoking a cigarette can trigger a chain reaction explosion and cause smoke inhalation injuries and catastrophic burns. A worker who experiences third-degree burns on multiple parts of their body may require several months of hospitalization, skin graft surgeries, and even years of cosmetic procedures. Some claimants suffer serious burns and may require limb amputation if the burns cause damage to their blood vessels or if they develop a serious infection.
Due to the high cost of medical treatment and related losses caused by serious burns due to an explosion, it’s often impossible for workers’ compensation benefits to fully cover the total losses. This is when it is imperative to hire personal injury lawyers to file a claim to recover damages for pain and suffering and additional costs.
Chemical Exposure and Confined Space Accidents
Many oilfield workers must operate in confined spaces to do their jobs. This presents unique hazards to workers. Additionally, sudden chemical leaks may result in suffocation and concentrated exposure to various hazardous chemicals like carcinogens, hydrogen fluoride, nitrogen oxide, HF acid, sulfur dioxide, and others.
Oilfield workers are also susceptible to petcoke. This term describes the toxic, heavy dust created as a by-product of tar sands that are necessary during oil processing. When exposed to these substances for long periods of time, workers may develop an array of health conditions, such as:
- Respiratory disorders
- Heart attacks
- Lung damage
- Cardiopulmonary diseases
While there are regulations in place related to environmental monitoring for workers in confined spaces, these conditions are still seen in many oilfield workers.
In some situations, cancers caused by exposure won’t appear until years of exposure to the substances or chemicals. Even if you did not discover your condition for months or years after exposure, you might still be entitled to compensation. Our personal injury lawyers can determine if this is the case for your situation.
Crushing and Caught Between Accidents
Caught between, struck by, and crushing accidents also occur to oilfield workers. The equipment used by oil and gas workers has various “pockets” where workers find they are stuck and then crushed. A crushing accident sometimes occurs when a negligent driver backs into someone else with equipment or strikes them with it. Falling tools, pipes, and other equipment may also strike workers.
Devastating, crushing injuries can also be caused by compressors, top drives, pumps, conveyors, hoist blocks, belt wheels, and rotating wellheads that don’t have the proper guards in place. If this type of incident occurs, the injuries are usually severe and include things like complex fractures, permanent nerve damage, and amputations.
Failures of Pressurized Equipment
Along with the thermal explosions (described above), eroding pipelines and compressed gasses can cause unexpected, pressurized explosions. A contributing factor to these explosions is weak, defective, or old equipment, which is more likely to burst when under pressure.
This can result in debris flying into the nearby area and causing injuries. Even a seemingly tiny piece of pipe flying at high rates of speed can result in TBIs or chest wounds. Unfortunately, many of these accidents occur because employers and owners of drill sites don’t follow the proper maintenance and safety guidelines.
Sometimes, an equipment manufacturer can also be held liable for these incidents. If they designed or sold drilling equipment unsuitable for industrial use, this is considered negligence. Additionally, many owners will fail to replace old or weak pipelines because of the high cost, which can also cause serious accidents. Hiring our personal injury lawyers will ensure that the right party is held liable for your injuries. In some cases, it may be a part manufacturer or negligent contractor.
We can investigate your accident case to determine who should be held responsible for your injuries and losses.
An elevated fall is a top cause of serious oilfield injuries. Many oilfield workers spend their time on high drilling platforms and masts. These areas are often dirty and wet, which creates the ideal environment for slips and falls.
OSHA has implemented fall prevention guidelines to help with these situations; however, they aren’t always followed. Additionally, site owners don’t always attend to dangerous conditions and slippery surfaces like they should.
Don’t Wait to Call Our Personal Injury Attorneys for Help with Your Oilfield Accident Claim
If you are involved in an oilfield accident and suffer injuries, getting in touch with our personal injury lawyers from The Burkett Law Firm is recommended. We can investigate the cause of your accident, gather evidence, and work to prove liability.
We understand how serious and devastating these accidents can be. Our goal is to work with clients to ensure they have the legal representation needed to recover the maximum compensation possible for their accidents, injuries, and losses. While no amount of money can make up for catastrophic injuries or fatalities, it can help ensure you can cover your bills and that you won’t experience financial hardship due to the incident.
The first step is to get in touch to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation with our team.