How many workers are killed on an oil platform each year?

How many workers are killed on an oil platform each year?

How many workers are killed on an oil platform each year?

Working on an oil rig is very dangerous, regardless of whether the rig is on land or at sea. Employees in the oil industry require extensive training because one mistake can mean the difference between life and death. Oil is highly volatile and explosive, and employers don't always follow the rules. Many companies are trying to prioritize quick money over the lives and safety of their workers. As a result, dozens of oil rig workers are injured or killed each year.

How many oil rig workers die each year?

A ten-year study found that the oil and gas extraction industry employs only 110 people annually out of approximately 1,189 people. There were only ten women each year, and most were between the ages of 25 and 34. About 40 percent of fatalities occurred in transportation accidents, about 26 percent from contact with equipment, and about 14 percent from fire or explosion. The death rate was around 25 per 100,000 workers. Drilling company workers experienced the highest fatality rate in the industry (44.6 per 100,000).

Skilled workers receive good wages in exchange for the risks of their Jobs

Oil patch workers earn good salaries, and for a good reason. Oil extraction is a specialized field, and the skill set of an experienced worker will be attractive to many companies. Many companies must ramp up production to take advantage of rising oil prices. The same companies go after the same workers and offer higher wages. Some companies may cut corners because they need help finding enough employees to work on their platform.

Oil rigs emit a volatile and flammable substance. Companies use heavy equipment to extract oil and gas underground or on the sea floor. Employees on an offshore oil rig, literally on a fixed platform in the middle of the ocean, depend on their company's safety measures for their lives. A collision or explosion with a marine vessel can damage offshore oil rigs. Some of rigs' biggest mass casualty incidents involved collisions with larger boats.

Any well, onshore or offshore, can be vulnerable to a sudden pressure build-up. Oil drilling uses powerful and flammable chemicals. The oil extraction industry's risk of fire and explosion is very high.

Common causes of death on oil rigs

These are the most common types of accidents on oil rigs:

  • Caught-in-the-middle accidents are the most common type of accident that causes serious injuries. Workers can be caught between two different hazards and crushed. They can get stuck under moving equipment.
  • Falls: Oil rigs can be very slippery, with products falling to the ground around the rig. Additionally, tools and parts may be thrown around the platform's sides, creating a tripping hazard. Some businesses may need proper pits on platforms or fully functional stairs. In several reported incidents, workers fell from the platform to their deaths. They fall from great distances into deep water and may die or drown from the fall. In one incident, four workers died because the platform operator failed to fix uneven bushings that caused workers to fall.
  • Explosions: Oil platforms are working with flammable and volatile materials. Drilling rigs can experience explosions when there are sudden changes in pressure. When extracting oil from the ground, proper management is key. Otherwise, it may cause an explosion.
  • Electrocution: This is a particularly big hazard on offshore oil rigs when the combination of water and exposed wiring can cause electrical shock. Employees may use extension cords, and water may enter them. Other extension cords may lack good points or be defective.

Why can working on an oil rig be so dangerous?

Workers in oil fields and oil rigs face many risks:

  • Oil rig workers may begin their work without proper safety training. Businesses must spend money to train workers, and training takes them away from production.
  • There is constant activity in the oil vein. Workers must be transported to and from the platform by vehicle or helicopter.
  • Oil companies sometimes prioritize investing in building a culture of safety compliance.
  • When oil prices are low, companies can work to repair and replace equipment that may be at the end of its useful life.

What we learn from the oil death statistics

Here are some statistics on oil rig fatalities in recent years:

  • In a recent year, there were 69 deaths, a relatively low number. Forty-four of those deaths occurred in Texas. An interesting trend this year is that workers with less than one year of experience were more likely to die. In 10 of the 28 deaths, investigators knew the workers' experience level.
  • In two years, there were 92 deaths on oil rigs. Most fatalities were workers with less than ten years of experience, and 54 of the 92 fatalities occurred while the rig was in service. More than half of the deaths were from transport or contact injuries. Many contact deaths resulted in accidents.

Oil field mortality rates were high for much of the first decade of the 21st century. Companies were scrambling to increase production to meet rising demand. Fracking was a relatively new process that oil companies were still learning. In addition, oil companies needed help finding workers to staff these new oil fields.

Preventive measures have reduced the death rate

Increased regulation has brought the death rate down somewhat over most of the past decade. In addition, the Great Recession caused oil prices to drop and many companies to sharply reduce oil production, further reducing oilfield fatalities. However, the decline in deaths stopped, and the number started to rise again in recent years.

The overall number of deaths in 2020 decreased as oil production decreased due to the pandemic. However, oil production has increased recently, and experienced workers have quit or been absent during the pandemic.

For offshore rig workers, their fatality rate is seven times more likely than the average American to die on the job. To some extent, the Deepwater Horizon disaster lowers these statistics. In this horrific accident, 11 people lost their lives when an explosion occurred, and it became one of the worst environmental disasters in US history.

Offshore oil rigs present a fatality risk that onshore workers do not. They go to the platform by helicopter and risk an accident. Other times, they reach the platform by boat, and some vessels may capsize or sink en route to the platform. These ships often navigate rough waters, particularly in the Gulf of Mexico.

In a recent year, six workers died in offshore platform accidents, more than in previous years. Also, this figure does not include the numerous transport-related accidents where workers died trying to reach the platform.

CDC analysis of oil field deaths

The Centers for Disease Control published a study of reports of oil rig deaths based on data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The research study looked at deaths during decades of the oil boom. According to the CDC, there were 1,189 deaths during that period. However, the total number of deaths can be misleading because the death rate decreased during this period. During this time, the number of oil field rigs and personnel doubled, so more employees worked in the fields and were at risk of death.

Research has found that transportation accidents are the leading cause of death in oil fields. Workers can be fatally injured while travelling to and from the oil field, and truck drivers can also be seriously injured in accidents. This study found that contact with objects was the leading cause of death in actual oil field work. This includes being caught between accidents. In recent years, technological and safety improvements have reduced the rate of these accidents. Even one death, though, is too many.

Increased production still means increased mortality

While the decline in mortality rates is a welcome development, more workers are still dying because of increased productivity. Additionally, many have questioned the reliability of the reported statistics. Fatalities in oil fields and offshore platforms go unreported. Part of the blame may fall at the feet of federal agencies, whose reporting standards do not capture all oil industry deaths. Therefore, the image of better security may be more of an illusion than reality.

First, the federal government does not count transportation accidents in the oil death total. Second, the standard does not always describe some accidents as work-related. Finally, the business is not even required to notify the federal government of the death of the offshore oil rig in state seas.

What to do if your loved one dies in an oil rig accident?

Families whose loved ones have died in oil rig accidents should thoroughly investigate the circumstances of their loved one's death before deciding on their legal course of action. Fatalities on oil rigs may be covered by workers' compensation programs, whether onshore or offshore. There is a separate federal program for offshore worker injuries and deaths.

However, a workers' compensation claim is not always in the best interest of a family that wants to maximize damages after the death of a loved one. These claims do not cover the full amount of lost wages for the remainder of the deceased worker's career. Only a personal injury claim can fully cover lost wages between the time of death and the duration of the decedent's career.

Third-party personal injury lawsuits following oil rig fatalities

The family will need to find a third-party responsible for the accident to file a wrongful death claim after an oil field accident. Of course, if the company didn't have workers' compensation insurance, it could also be liable in a lawsuit.

If your loved one dies in a transportation accident, the natural defendant is the company that operated the helicopter or boat. If your loved one was a truck driver killed on the job, you might consider filing a lawsuit against the driver responsible for the accident. You can also sue the manufacturers of the equipment that killed your loved one if it was defective.

Your oilfield injury attorney can also find many third parties who may face wrongful death claims. If the defendant is a business, your recovery may be even greater because you have a larger insurance policy. If the negligent person was an employee of a business, your employer is liable for your injuries.

Wrongful Death Damages in Oil Rig Lawsuits

First, your attorney must determine the cause of the accident to determine the right party to sue (if at all).

If you are eligible to file a wrongful death lawsuit, your family may receive the following:

  • Your loved one lost wages for a lifetime of earnings. These losses can be substantial, given the high wages in the oil extraction sector.
  • They are paying for your family's pain and trauma of losing a loved one. Oilfield accidents are sudden and unexpected, and your family must have experienced a lot of pain and trauma.
  • Compensation for the loss of support and guidance of a loved one.

Statistics show that the majority of oil rig workers killed on the job are under the age of 40. Smaller accident victims usually mean higher wrongful death damages. When someone younger dies, the family loses more. They may have earned higher salaries because the rest of their careers are longer. Also, the accident victim may be a young father whose presence means a lot to the family. Wrongful death cases are about the dollar value of a life lost and what it means to that person's family.

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