10 Frightening Oil Rig Accident Facts

Maritime Injuries Aug 3, 2022

Working on an oil rig can be extremely dangerous. From fires and explosions to slips, trips and falls, all types of accidents present risks for serious—if not life-threatening—injuries. Statistics show that working on an oil rig is among the most dangerous jobs you can have, and each year numerous workers suffer injuries and lose their lives in accidents that could have been avoided.

What makes working on an oil rig so dangerous? Just how dangerous is working on an oil rig in the open water? Here are 10 frightening facts about oil rig accidents:

1. Oil Rig Workers Are Seven Times More Likely To Be Killed On the Job

Federal statistics show that oil rig workers are seven times more likely to suffer a fatal injury on the job than the average worker in the United States. This is a major difference that can be attributed to several different factors. Not only do oil rig workers perform dangerous jobs, but they are often forced to work under hazardous conditions. As a result, while approximately 1 in 200,000 workers die at work on average, about 1 in 25,000 oil rig workers will lose their lives on the job.

2. Fires and Explosions are Leading Causes of Death On Oil Rigs

On average, there are more than 100 oil rig fires in the Gulf of Mexico alone each year. While many of these fires are quickly contained, some of them lead to catastrophic injuries and losses. Explosions on oil rigs and during underwater operations injure and kill multiple offshore workers each year as well. While rig operators will often try to claim that these accidents were unavoidable, the reality is that there is no excuse for a fire or explosion to compromise workers’ safety or cost workers their lives.

3. Many Oil Rig Accidents Result in Multiple Catastrophic Injuries and Fatalities

Fires, explosions, and other accidents on jack-up rigs and other oil rigs often injure or kill multiple workers—and some of these accidents are major catastrophes. For example, the most deadly oil rig accident in history, the Piper Alpha disaster, claimed 167 workers’ lives. It is not unusual for several workers to suffer life-altering or life-threatening injuries in the same incident, particularly when jobs require multiple workers to be in the same confined space at the same time.

4. More Oil Rig Workers Mean More Oil Rig Injuries and Deaths

While you might think that companies would be more careful when more workers’ lives are at stake, the data show that this is not the case. Statistically, as oil rig operators ramp up their offshore drilling operations, the number of workers injured and killed on the job increases at roughly the same rate. In fact, in many circumstances, hiring multiple workers who lack relevant experience and who have not worked with one another previously can lead to an increase in job-related injuries and fatalities on oil rigs.

5. All Types of Oil Rig Accidents Can Leave Workers Injured and Their Families Grieving

While fires and explosions are the leading causes of death on oil rigs, they are far from the only risks oil rig workers face on a daily basis. All types of oil rig accidents can leave employees hospitalized and unable to work—or leave their loved ones grieving their untimely deaths. Some more examples of oil rig accidents that are far too common include:

  • Drilling accidents
  • Equipment failures and malfunctions
  • Gangway or embarkation ladder accidents
  • Helicopter crashes
  • Near-drowning and drowning accidents
  • Slips, trips, and falls
  • Welding accidents

6. Oil Rig Accidents Can Result from a Wide Range of Causes

Many different factors can—and do—contribute to causing oil rig accidents. When it comes to seeking just compensation for an accident, determining the cause (or causes) is critical for establishing an injured worker’s or family’s legal rights. Some examples of factors that may entitle workers and families to recover full compensation for the financial and non-financial costs of offshore injuries and deaths include:

  • Alcohol and drug use
  • Failure to follow safety protocols
  • Forcing workers to work while fatigued
  • Hiring inexperienced or unqualified workers
  • Inadequate access to safety equipment
  • Non-functioning or poorly maintained safety equipment
  • Hazardous weather and sea conditions

7. Most Serious and Fatal Oil Rig Accidents are Preventable

As you can see from this list of factors, most serious and fatal oil rig accidents are preventable. This is a tragic reality of working offshore in many cases. While companies can take steps to protect their workers—and while they are legally required to adopt adequate safety measures—many companies simply choose not to do so.

8. Non-Fatal Oil Rig Accidents Often Result in Disfiguring and Life-Changing Injuries

While all types of on-the-job injuries deserve attention, most workers’ injuries are relatively mild, and most workers will be able to fully recover over time. But, for oil rig workers, this isn’t necessarily the case. From severe burns to loss of digits and limbs, and from traumatic brain injuries to hearing loss, many oil rig accident injuries have lifelong effects.

9. Oil Rig Accidents Often Have Other Devastating Effects

In addition to the risks to workers, oil rig accidents present environmental risks as well. Leaks and explosions can contaminate thousands of square miles of open water and thousands of miles of shoreline, and they can devastate marine vegetation and animal populations. Unfortunately, it is clear that many companies ignore these risks as well.

10. Oil Rig Operators and Their Insurance Companies Fight Injured Workers’ Claims for Just Compensation

Despite the clear costs of suffering a serious on-the-job injury, and despite clear liability in many cases, oil rig operators and their insurance companies will often dispute injured workers’ claims for just compensation. Even when there is no question that these companies are obligated to pay, they will still fight vigorously to avoid paying what they owe.

Discuss Your Oil Rig Accident Claim with a Lawyer for Free

If you have been seriously injured or lost a loved one in an oil rig accident, you may be entitled to significant financial compensation. To discuss your legal rights with a lawyer for free, call 800-468-4878 or tell us how we can reach you online today.

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