Injuries can occur in any occupation — slipping on a wet floor, throwing out your back from lifting heavy objects, or burns while working with an oven. Oil rig workers are especially at risk of workplace injury because of the heavy machinery and fast pace of work. In fact, compared to other industries, they have the highest rate of injury.
In the United States, there are about 350 oil rigs working in American waters, according to tech company Baker Hughes. It’s important to understand the protections and rights that you have as an employee. In fact, there are oil rig injury attorneys and lawyers who have a special understanding of the industry and the laws surrounding workers’ compensation
There are many injuries that can be sustained on an oil rig, but some of the most common include:
The most common injury, amputations have occured on oil rigs when employees got their limbs caught in equipment. The most common limb to be amputated are fingers, but leg fractures are also common. These injuries can require surgery, physical therapy, prosthetics and other medical treatments.
On the rig, employees are working with welding equipment and heavy duty machinery that can lead to burns. In more severe instances, fires and explosions can also cause serious burns. Steam can cause burns not only on the skin but internal damage if breathed in.
Hearing and vision loss
In a study by the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention, 14 percent of workers in the oil and gas extraction sector reported having hearing loss. This number is even higher, 28 percent, in natural gas liquid extraction. Their vision is also at risk when exposed to chemicals and debris.
Traumatic brain injury
The ocean serves as an uneven work space — waves and unexpected weather can shift objects aboard an oil rig. If things fall or move out of place, head injuries can occur. Traumatic brain injuries are serious as they can lead to not only physical injury and disabilities but also long-term mental effects
Injuries in oil rigs have deceased since 2016, but unfortunately, it’s been a result of job loss in the sector. However, it’s also been because of improvements made in the workplace.
But one injury or even fatality is one too many. Oil rigs are dangerous places to work because of the demanding work environment, dealing with heavy machinery, exposure to flammable materials, and unpredictable working conditions that are heavily impacted by the weather. Working on elevated work spaces can also lead to dangerous working conditions.
With proper training, support, and the addition of protective gear for workers, the numbers can continue to decrease.
"14 percent of workers in the oil and gas extraction sector reported having hearing loss."
Employees of a company are protected by workers’ compensation — this is a type of insurance that covers companies should an employee get injured at the workplace. However, for oil rig workers and other offshore employees, they are covered by two separate protections:
The Jones Act
Workers’ compensation is a program run by the state where the injury occured. The Jones Act, on the other hand, is a federal protection for seamen injured on a ship or vessel. The law covers maintenance and cure payments, unearned wages, and an employee’s right to file a negligence lawsuit. The employee must spend at least 30 percent of their working time offshore to qualify and has to prove that the company was at fault. Employees include offshore oil workers and people working on supply boats, casino boats, passenger ships, freighters, container ships and more.
Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act
This is another federal law for employees who are injured and supporters injured workers through compensation, medical care and rehabilitation services. It also provides for survivor benefits to dependents. This will cover not only offshore workers, but also employees who work on piers, docks, terminals, wharves and areas where items are loaded and unloaded onto vessels.
If you or a loved one is dealing with an injury sustained while working on an oil rig, contact us for a complimentary consultation to review your case.
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