If you live in Texas, chances are you know someone whose work involves some aspect of the oil and gas industry. Oil and gas exploration and processing is a main economic staple here in Texas. The industry is a complex one from a workforce standpoint. With job titles ranging from roustabouts and roughnecks to derrick hands and tool pushers, each position requires a special skill set that is not instantly obtained, but takes time and training to develop. Although some of these positions are more physically demanding than others, almost all positions involve some degree of risk for potential injury. For this reason, the rig operators often office on site to better manage crew members. Heavy equipment, tools, and the use of large machinery, including trucks and other vehicles, require an extreme degree of care, maintenance and safety precautions taken to ensure that oilfield workers are operating in a safe environment. Proper training among the rig staff is also standard across the industry to ensure safety for crew members and other staff; however, even with safety policies and procedures in place, injuries and even fatalities do occur.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that in 2011 alone, workers in the drilling segment of the oil and gas industry in Texas experienced about 2600 nonfatal illnesses and injuries. These injuries and illnesses included burns, electrocution, broken bones, head and neck injuries, amputations, exposure to toxic chemicals and gases, and even death. The number of fatal occupational injuries in the oil and gas industry in Texas in 2011 totaled 112. The portion of the industry dealing with extraction reported 199 fatal injuries from 2007 to 2011.
The most common causes of injuries that occur in the oil and gas industry are explosions and fires associated with production or exploration. Many explosions or fires often occur because of faulty or improperly maintained equipment, although pure operator negligence may also be the cause of others. Often, it is not the initial fire or explosion that causes the most harm, but the poor or lacking response to the explosion, the lack of proper training to get people to safety, or the lack of a response plan detailing how to contain the initial fire or explosion. The negligence and limited preparation in these cases are the cause of many debilitating burns, exposure to toxic chemicals and gases and death.
In addition to the more obvious injuries related to fires and explosions, some oilfield workers are actually caught or dragged into heavy equipment, which can cause catastrophic fractures, amputations and even death. Other injuries include slips and falls due to walking and/or stepping surfaces being kept in a way that creates an unsafe working environment. These injuries often start with an initial injury such as a major bruise or bone fracture, but can often develop into a more serious condition, such as a condition affecting the spine, which requires surgery.
Lastly, because the oilfield industry requires the use of transportation vehicles, crashes involving 18-wheelers and other motor vehicles are inevitable. Motor vehicles are used to transport workers, heavy equipment and supplies to and from sites. These types of crashes, due to the weight of most vehicles involved, can cause horrific injuries for those unfortunate enough to be involved in them, and can also cause every injury that has been previously discussed.
If you or someone you know has suffered from an oilfield-related injury or death, Findlay Craft, PC is an East Texas law firm experienced in oil and gas litigation and committed to supporting the hardworking individuals who make the United States oil and gas industry the best in the world. Let us represent and guide you through your journey to becoming whole again.