Working in an oilfield always provides the risk of danger. It is not a typical job, often requiring intense labor and harsh schedules. On top of that, even when meeting all the rules and regulations, the environment is not always guaranteed to be safe. Due to this, oil and gas industries are some of the most common fields for workers to receive injuries. In fact, oilfields provide the highest reported work-related injuries of nearly any profession.
Although many people benefit from the work that gets done on the oilfield, it poses the risk of injury and sometimes even death for its workers. If you or a loved one have experienced oilfield injuries, you need a personal injury lawyer to represent you. Shreveport lawyer Joseph Greenwald of Greenwald Law Firm has handled several oilfield injury cases. He understands the danger that comes with an oilfield job, and he knows what it takes to help you get proper compensation for your injuries. Here are 6 of the most common oilfield injuries.
The oilfield is one of the leading industries in the state of Louisiana. With taxes paid, people currently employed, and the economic impact of the industry, it remains a very crucial industry to the south. Oil and gas operations support around 1 out of every 9 of the state’s careers. With almost 250,000 employees working in the oilfield in Louisiana, this area of employment adds significant value to the economy.
In 2020 alone, the oilfield industry provided over $70 billion to the state GDP (Gross Domestic Product). In terms of state and local tax revenue, the industry brought in $4.5 billion last year. This accounts for just under 15% of total state licenses, fees, and taxes collected. This revenue helps provides essential operating resources for the local government.
Because of the significance of this industry and the fact that its wages are above state average, it is a common career path. Though the job offers many benefits, it is still a dangerous profession.
Oilfield workers often operate under hazardous conditions due to the physical demands of the job. In addition, remote rig locations, extreme weather, long hours, and heavy machinery add several safety hazards. The Office of Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) reports that oil extraction workers have a death rate 7 times higher than any other industry in the United States. Though there are many safety protocols put in place to avoid these injuries, oilfield accidents still occur.
Causes of Oilfield Injuries
Oilfield injuries range from minor to extreme, sometimes proving fatal. The extraction process for oil includes everything from drilling to refining and processing the product. It also includes the storage and transportation of the product and the disposal of waste. Common oilfield injuries can include any of the following:
- Loss of limbs
- Back and neck injuries
- Traumatic brain injuries
- Lung damage
- Internal injuries
Injuries can occur in any area of this profession, but there are some oilfield accidents that tend to be more frequent. 6 of the most common causes of oilfield injuries include: slips and falls, equipment malfunction, fires and explosions, electrocution, gas poisoning, and improper training.
1. Slips and Falls
A slip and fall accident can occur in nearly any profession. In the oilfield industry, a slip and fall can bring serious injury and even the end of the worker’s career. This is especially true when it occurs on an elevated rig. Though strict safety measures can help prevent these accidents, it cannot eliminate the possibility of them entirely.
2. Equipment Malfunction
Oilfield workers often find themselves working with complex equipment and heavy machinery. Defective or malfunctioning equipment can result from improper maintenance or simple oversights. The company employing the worker is responsible for maintaining equipment and ensuring that it meets industry standards.
Equipment malfunction can not only prevent the job from getting done, but it also provides the strong possibility of accidents and injury. Injuries may range from broken bones, burns, or even death. For the equipment to maintain top quality and safety, companies should perform routine maintenance checks.
3. Fires and Explosions
Working around oil and gas always poses the threat of onsite fires or explosions. In fact, this is one of the most common types of oilfield accidents. Fires may erupt when pressurized gas makes contact with sparks. Considering the large volume of gas, they can be very difficult to extinguish. This, in turn, can lead to large explosions.
Fires and explosions can bring about a variety of injuries, including severe burns, head injuries, and even fatalities. With these injuries, the victim often requires a lifetime of medical care, which can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars or more.
Working in an oilfield also exposes the worker to numerous chemicals. These dangerous chemicals should remain properly contained and stored, but mistakes can happen. Many of these chemicals are often conducive to electricity, which puts employees at risk for electrocution. Electric shock can, in many cases, be life-threatening.
Exposure to these chemicals can also lead to acid or chemical burns.
5. Gas Poisoning
Gas poisoning is another type of accident that is common on oilfields. One of the gases commonly found on oilfields, hydrogen sulfide, easily collects in areas with little or no ventilation.
Though hydrogen sulfide has a strong odor, often described as a “rotten-egg” smell, workers may not notice the scent. This is because they are regularly exposed to harsh odors and have become accustomed to the smells. Known as olfactory fatigue, oilfield workers may experience a sort of “nose blindness” which makes them unable to distinguish certain odors. In addition, hydrogen sulfide is colorless, making it even harder to detect.
There are three different grades of gas leaks. Grade 3 gas leaks are the least troublesome. While Grade 2 leaks are essentially non-hazardous, the company should repair them as soon as possible. Grade 1 gas leaks are the most hazardous and require immediate attention and action.
Regardless of the grade, any type of leak can lead to gas poisoning. These toxic fumes may lead to a variety of symptoms, including nausea, headaches, unconsciousness, or even death.
6. Improper Training
An oilfield is a very fast-paced environment. Sites require attention and care in nearly every aspect. Improper or insufficient training of a worker can lead to devastating consequences, resulting in injuries to the under-trained worker and anyone around them.
Proper training and the enforcement of safety protocols is imperative in the oilfield and gas industries. Workers should receive thorough training and remain knowledgeable of all safety procedures in their day-to-day activities. Knowing the risks and how to stay safe in this profession can help reduce and prevent many of the oilfield accidents and injuries listed above.
Shreveport Louisiana Oilfield Injury Attorney
If you experience an accident while working on the oilfield, you’re entitled to compensation for your injuries. This compensation can help cover damages such as medical expenses, loss of income, and in the worst case, funeral expenses.
An oilfield injury case can be complex. It may provide many challenges that can be difficult for one to handle on their own. That is why it is so important to seek the legal representation of an experienced oilfield injury attorney. At Greenwald Law Firm, we have experience representing oilfield injury clients across Louisiana for almost 20 years. If you or a loved one experienced an oilfield accident and received injuries, know your legal rights. For more information or to schedule a consultation with Joseph Greenwald, please reach out to us online or call our office at 318-219-7867.