Texas is a major player in the oil and gas industry. From natural gas products to refineries, the oil and gas industry wouldn’t be what it is today without Texas. While the industry has brought wealth and prosperity to some, it has come at a serious cost to others. Oilfield accidents are very common in Texas and can occur during and after all stages of the extraction process, including drilling sites, pipelines, transportation, refineries and other related areas. All workers have the right to a reasonably safe workplace, and that includes oil and gas workers. Energy industry employers can be held liable when they recklessly endanger the lives of their employees.
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Award Winning Injury Attorneys Oilfield Accident Attorney
The US The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates an average of 120 oil and gas fatalities each year, with thousands more workers suffering serious injuries. Given the dangerous nature of the work, these injuries are often more serious than those in white-collar workplaces. Oilfield accidents can often involve workers who are exposed to electrical currents, hazardous substances or chemicals, fires, explosions, toxic material leaks, and line blowouts, among many other possible causes. Each year in Texas alone, the Texas Railroad Commission assesses thousands of violations against the oil and gas industry for workplace safety failures, often involving oilfield vehicles, equipment, pipelines, storage and more.
Causes of Oilfield Accidents
Due to the sensitive nature of oil extraction and production, a variety of hazards can result in a catastrophic oilfield accident. Workers often work in tight, cramped spaces using heavy machinery, complex and sensitive equipment, and chemicals. Given that these hazards are inherent in oilfield work, preventable accidents often result in life-changing injuries and fatalities. Workers suffer from inadequate leadership and supervision by employers in the following ways:
Equipment failure is a leading cause of serious injury and death. Oilfields are intricately constructed to support oil refining and production. Every aspect needs to be regularly inspected and serviced to keep workers safe. This applies to heavy equipment and machinery that workers must come in contact with while performing their daily job duties. Oil companies are notorious for safety issues, because the cost of shutting down for maintenance is less valuable to them than the cost of human life.
Structural failure is similar to the failure of equipment such as beams, pipes, stairwells, and any surface that employees interact with that requires regular inspection and maintenance. Structural hazards put workers at risk of injury when there are loose pipes or cracks/leaks that allow chemicals to escape, collapsed beams, faulty stairs and railings, and more. Because workers are placed in confined spaces with heavy objects, it is important that the facility is structurally sound.
Inadequate training can be responsible for human error on an oilfield worksite. Workers are only as safe as they are trained. This can be said not only in terms of safety training, but also for job-specific training, chemicals used and their hazards, and emergency training. Workers who can spot problems when working with machines, tools and chemicals have a chance to prevent serious accidents – but they can only do so with the necessary training tools. Training must be accessible, mandatory, and provided in languages that employees understand—all before they take on any job duties. Additionally, the importance of safety training should be emphasized considering the amount of risk associated with both job tasks and facility layouts that may be difficult to evacuate during an emergency.
Ignoring industrial standards contributes to preventable accidents. Oil companies are legally required to operate under federal and state safety standards, including compliance with regulations outlined by the Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA). Compliance with these regulations can be time-consuming and costly, taking time and manpower away from profitable production schedules. Oilfield owners and operators must regularly shut down workplaces for inspection and maintenance and upgrade facilities that do not meet safety standards.
Lack of signage and personal protective equipment leaves workers vulnerable to workplace hazards. Oilfields should have safety signs, including precautions and regulations, displayed in high-visibility areas and posted in a language workers understand. Additionally, employers must provide them with personal protective equipment for an additional barrier between themselves and their work. Personal protective equipment such as safety goggles and hardhats can dramatically reduce serious injuries.
Given the common causes of oilfield accidents, the injuries are usually severe and the physical, emotional and financial effects are permanent. Oilfield accident injuries can leave workers disfigured and unable to work. Common injuries in oilfield accidents include but are not limited to:
- Broken bones or fractures
- Deep cuts and lacerations
- Traumatic brain injuries
- Spinal cord injuries
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How Can a Texas Oilfield Accident Attorney Help?
Texas is one of only two states that does not require employers to subscribe to workers’ compensation. For these and other reasons, when a worker is injured they may be forced to pay their own medical expenses out of pocket. Texas has the most oilfield accident deaths in the country; And, hiring an oilfield accident attorney who knows the applicable state and federal laws is essential. If you or someone you know has been injured in an oilfield accident, contact us to learn your rights.