Working on an oil field in Texas is inherently dangerous, in part due to the high risk of explosions. The National Fire Protection Association reports EnergyWire data showing that the oil and gas industry is responsible for 10% of all workplace fatalities from fires and explosions, despite employing less than 1% of the total workforce.
If an oil industry accident caused by negligence or unsafe work conditions has changed your family’s life, it is vital to seek competent legal representation from a skilled employment injury lawyer in Texas to see if you have a case for financial compensation.
Texas is one of the leading states in oil and gas drilling, and the industry provides thousands of job opportunities for the state. Due to the possibility for injury, safety precautions must be diligently followed by employers, as well as strong training and effective supervision.
But in some cases these precautions are ignored and the results are often disastrous, or even fatal.
Individuals who work on oil fields are often exposed to a number of serious safety risks, including heavy machinery, dangerous chemicals and gases, and electrical hazards. The chemicals and dangerous working conditions also make oil and gas rigs vulnerable to explosions and fires.
When an oil field explosion occurs, it often makes national news, as we saw in the infamous April 2010 BP offshore oil drilling explosion and spill.
There is often a long and thorough investigation to reveal the underlying causes for oil field explosions and fires. Causes include electrical equipment short circuiting, which causes a fire that erupts into a full explosion after coming into contact with other combustible materials like oil or gas. A spark from a tool, or batteries leaking explosive gasses could also lead to explosions.
Additionally, machinery used in oil field work often involves high pressures, which when coupled with the presence of equipment and flammable fire, increases the risk of an explosion.
Fires in this industry are often very serious due to the steady supply of oil near the explosion site.
Some of the most common reasons for oil field explosions include:
Although stringent regulations have been developed to help minimize the possibility of serious injury or death, some companies continue to take shortcuts with safety measures to save time or money. These tactics often compromise the safety of a work environment.
It is pivotal in cases involving oil field accidents that the reasons for these fires are discovered so that future disasters can be averted. With the help of industry experts and a legal team, many accident victims are able to recover for the damages that they suffer.
According to the federal Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA), between 2003-2010, 823 people died on oil and gas extraction sites nationwide. This represented seven times the rate of fatalities for all United States industries.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) shows that between 2007-2011 199 people in Texas died as a result of oil and gas industry fatalities.
During the last several years, the oil industry has grown significantly. More than 162,000 workers had jobs in the oil industry between the years 2007 and 2012, representing a 40 percent employment increase.
Many positions are quite lucrative; however, the higher job numbers have also been a factor in the increased rate of injuries and fatalities.
When explosions and heavy machinery are involved, the results can be catastrophic injuries for accident victims. Injuries that oil field explosions cause include:
If you have been injured in an oil field explosion you could be entitled to workers' compensation. Damages might include:
Your medical expenses could cost hundreds of thousands of dollars and you may be facing years of difficult recovery ahead, especially when suffering from serious burns. Often skin graft surgery, medical equipment and prosthetics are necessary in the course of treatment.
If you can establish that you have been burned due to negligence, Texas law allows you to be compensated for the following.
Past and future pain and suffering, which could be substantial in a burn injury case. If you have suffered severe burns that led to obvious disfigurement, such as on the face, your award could be higher.
As an employee in the Texas oil and gas industry it is important to understand your rights and responsibilities. Not only to address your own potential accident case, but to help prevent a future workplace accident by knowing what problems to look for and how to report unsafe working conditions.
The law requires employers to provide their employees with safe and healthful workplaces. OSHA also prohibits employers from retaliating against employees for exercising their rights under the law. For more information see www.whistleblowers.gov for more information on workers' rights.
If you have questions or concerns about your work site, find your regional or area OSHA office through the OSHA Offices by State webpage or call 1-800-321-OSHA (6742).