It is no secret that offshore oil rig workers, especially those involved in the oil and gas industry, are at risk for occupational hazards. These dangers are reiterated when accidents occur, such as a recent incident on the Talos Energy Platform that claimed an offshore oil rig worker’s life, and raised questions about operators and regulations.
One of the most pressing issues facing the oil and gas industry is the safety of workers and facilities. Read on to learn more about the type of accidents and injuries that are common, and why safety is so important.
Talos Energy Platform Fatal Incident
According to the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE), an offshore oil rig worker was removing fire suppression equipment that was no longer in service when he became injured and later died. The Incident did not cause any other injuries, and did not result in a fire or pollution to the area. The BSEE is continuing to investigate the incident and death of the oil worker.
Fatal Incident Raises Questions about Safety and Regulations
This is not the first time that Talos Energy has been investigated after an oil worker died. In 2013, the BSEE initiated a performance improvement plan for Talos’ subsidiary Energy Resource Technology (ERT). Just three months later, a fatality was reported on one of their platforms. In 2016, ERT was ordered to pay $4.2 million, and was placed on three years of probation, based on a review of offshore activities.
Accidents like those on the Talos Energy platforms highlight the dangers that oil workers face, as well as potential problems with operations and regulations. The Trump Administration, for example, has proposed a rollback to some of the regulations put in place following the Deepwater Horizon accident in 2010. It is unclear whether or not such rollbacks will be supported or implemented.
Most Common Risks for Offshore Oil Rig Workers
Between 2009 and 2016, the BSEE reported that offshore accidents claimed the lives of 29 people, including those killed in the Deepwater Horizon accident. In addition to the fatalities, there have been numerous accidents causing injuries. The most common risks for oil workers include:
- Contact with Equipment or Objects: Offshore Oil rig workers work around a lot of heavy equipment. Cranes and machines often move or lift objects and equipment, which poses hazards to workers nearby. Between 2003 and 2010, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimated that 16 percent of all offshore accidents involved contact with equipment or objects.
- Fire or Explosion: Oil rig workers are especially vulnerable to fire and explosion risks due to the nature of the chemicals used, presence of flammable materials, harsh environment, and potential for leaks. Other factors leading to fire or explosion include equipment failure, circuit or wiring problems, or negligence in maintaining facilities.
- Harmful Substances: Offshore Oil rig workers commonly come into contact with potentially harmful substances. Oil platforms are often equipped with solvents, crude oil, drilling fluids, and other chemicals. These substances can be toxic, and if not handled properly can lead to allergic reaction, rash, respiratory problems, burns, asphyxiation, or death.
- Slips, Trips, and Falls: Because of where oil platforms are situated, there is always the risk of slippery surfaces. Placement on the water makes it difficult to keep all surfaces dry, and there is always the risk for sudden changes in weather conditions. Slips, trips, and falls are a common cause of injuries, especially when surfaces are not properly maintained, when railing or scaffolds are not properly secured, when lighting is poor, or when workers are not properly trained and equipped.
- Transportation: Getting to and from oil platforms requires use of helicopters or water vehicles. These forms of transportation can be more dangerous, especially with factors like mechanical failure and changing weather conditions.
Learn More about Your Oil Rig Worker Rights
If you work on an oil platform, or in any facet of the maritime industry, you know that there are dangers associated with your job. However, you are forced to place your trust in your employer and/or supervisor to ensure that your workplace is safe and secure, and that you have the proper training and equipment needed to do your job. When employers and supervisors fail to ensure a safe and secure workplace, or fail to offer proper training, the lives of their employees are placed at risk.
We can help you understand your legal rights, determine if your employer was negligent, and ensure that you get the compensation needed to move forward. Fill out our online form to get started. Learn more about offshore injury lawyers.