Working offshore is one of the most dangerous jobs you can have. In a study conducted by the CDC, offshore workers are seven times more likely to experience a fatal injury at work. This statistic can be daunting to discover, but there are certain safety hazards that are unique to offshore oil rigs that may explain this. In this article, we will discuss the unique safety hazards offshore oil riggers experience, safety measures they can take to prevent them, and what to do if you are injured on an offshore oil rig.
Why Are Offshore Oil Rigs Dangerous
Offshore oil rigs are structures located in the middle of the ocean where crew members drill into the rock bed to extract oil or natural gasses. These structures are also used as housing for the crew members for months at a time. Oil and natural gasses are highly flammable and because of the nature of the offshore oil rigs, there are a variety of safety hazards and the potential for serious injury that all crew members may experience. It is important that proper training is conducted, and that safety drills are periodically used to avoid being injured on an offshore oil rig.
Unique Hazards of Offshore Oil Rigs
There are approximately eight safety hazards that are unique to offshore oil rig workers. They include:
- Confined Work Quarters: Couple confined workspace with an open-air space and you get an oil rig. There is very limited space on offshore oil rigs. The makes the workspace very cramped. In addition to this, oil rigs are predominantly open-air spaces. This means that, like working on a boat, there is very little protection against you and a fall into the ocean.
- Slippery Surfaces/Falling: Like mentioned above, there is not a lot that is preventing you from falling from large heights or into the ocean on an oil rig. Plus, because oil rigs are in the middle of the ocean, many surfaces can become slippery and wet leading to falls that can cause traumatic brain injuries.
- Extreme Weather: You think we get bad weather on the shore? Imagine all of that, plus dealing with the intensity of the ocean. Extreme weather can break equipment, cause outages, and generally make it difficult to perform job duties.
- Hazardous Chemicals and Gases: In order to extract oil and natural gas from the rock beds, a variety of chemicals and gasses are used. These chemicals can be flammable, toxic, or cause chemical burns. These hazardous chemicals are used on a daily basis and if not properly trained, workers can cause serious injuries to themselves or others.
- Blowouts/Fires: Due to the use of hazardous chemicals and gasses, oil rig workers are more likely to experience a blowout or a fire. If proper safety protocols are not followed, these can easily get out of hand.
- Dangerous Equipment: There are a large variety of tools and equipment used on an oil rig. If not used properly, or if the equipment malfunctions, people can get hurt. This can include people’s appendages getting stuck in pinch points, pressure failure, falling debris, etc.
- Electric Shock: Between the water and the equipment that is used, the likelihood of getting electrocuted is much higher on an oil rig.
- High Noise Level: The drilling process on an oil rig can be exceptionally loud. This can lead to hearing loss, burst eardrums, or even deafness.
How to Protect Yourself
The most important aspect of working on an offshore oil rig is making sure you follow proper safety protocol. This includes:
- Not using equipment you haven’t been trained on.
- Regularly inspecting tools and equipment.
- Wearing protective gear.
- Having escape/safety plans.
- Proper training measures have been taken prior to working on the oil rig.
What To Do If You Have Been Injured on Offshore Oil Rig
Despite following all safety measures, accidents are going to happen. When someone is injured offshore it is necessary that they seek the proper medical attention right away. Most employers will have worker’s compensation in order to pay for workers’ medical bills and lost wages, but in the state of Texas workers’ compensation insurance is not required. This can lead to even more of a headache for the injured worker and leave them with a mountain of debt.
Offshore injuries fall under maritime law, so workers’ compensation claims can be difficult to navigate and understand. If you have been injured on an offshore oil rig, there are a number of measures you can take to ensure you get the monetary help you deserve. The attorneys at Paxton Law, are ready to help. At Paxton Law, we have committed attorneys ready to take on your case. Call us for a free consultation today.