Oilfield & Offshore Injuries

original (2)Workers at drilling sites are surrounded by heavy machinery that can kill or maim in an instant. About half the workers who die are struck by equipment or are killed in motor vehicle accidents. Others fall from catwalks, are crushed by falling loads, burned in explosions or become tangled in chains and cables.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, at least 598 oilfield workers died on the job between 2002 and 2007. During that period, the number of deaths per year rose by around 70 percent. An additional 120 fatal work injuries occurred in the oil and gas extraction industry in 2008 alone. In addition to the number of workers killed on the job, approximately 20,000 other workers suffered nonfatal injuries during the five-year period from 2003 to 2007. These statistics do not include fatalities in the oil and gas production industry (e.g. refining), which is classified separately by the federal government.

Many of those deaths and injuries have occurred in Texas, the nation's largest producer of crude oil and natural gas. During the five-year period from 2004 to 2008, fatal work injuries among oilfield workers in Texas increased by 21% alone.

rig-handSeveral factors account for the increasing rates of injury and death in an industry long considered one of the most dangerous in the nation:

  • Dramatic Increase in Drilling. Spurred by record-breaking oil and natural gas prices, the number of workers in oil and gas jobs shot up from 290,000 in 2002 to 428,000 in 2007. In July 2002, 740 land-based oil and gas rigs were operating in the United States; today, there are about 2,000.
  • Inexperienced Workforce. Many experienced oilfield workers left the industry in the mid-1980s during the oil bust, when a barrel sold for less than $10. Now, with prices hovering around $100 a barrel, many drilling companies have hired workers with little or no experience. The problem has been compounded by the oilfield industry’s opposition to a unionized workforce. As a result, many jobs have no entry level requirements or apprenticeship programs and workers are left to learn on the job.
  • Non-Compliance with Safety Rules. Despite the fact that the mythological image of the independent “Wildcatter” has replaced by multi-billion dollar a year global corporations, the oilfield industry continues to loathe safety rules and regulations. In fact, the oil and gas industry spends millions of dollars each year on lobbying and political efforts designed to reduce and/or eliminate safety restrictions and requirements. This corporate culture, compounded with increased production demands, has created an industry in which workplace safety violations are common and often encouraged.
  • Rampant drug and alcohol abuse. Often portrayed in movies as hard-working, harder-fighting, whiskey-drinking “Roughneck,” this image has led to a culture where alcohol abuse is common. More recently, many workers have turned to another drug, methamphetamine, to get through 12-hour shifts that can last up to 14 days in a row.

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SAMMONS & BERRY, P.C., represents injured workers and their families in cases ACROSS THE COUNTRY.  Our lawyers, paralegals, and other professionals are experienced in evaluating, investigating, negotiating and trying these difficult cases.  If you believe you or family member were injured on the job – call or email us for a FREE case evaluation.  Our team of experienced attorneys will review the facts in your case and answer any questions you may have.

Our team of experienced attorneys will review the facts in your case and answer any questions you may have.

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