Top 5 Causes of Offshore Oil Rig Accidents

Picture of oil refinery, dock workers,

The maritime industry in the United States has been known for years to be one of the most dangerous work environments to live in. Serious injuries and fatalities are reported every year on offshore sites across the nation, and Houston oil rigs are not excluded. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the U.S. oil and gas extraction industry has a fatality rate that is seven times higher than any other American work industry.

How Do Offshore Oil Rig Accidents in Houston Occur?

  1. Rig transportation. As part of their daily work, oil rig industry employees use different modes of transportation to transport items to rig locations. Transportation accidents are the number one cause of injuries and death in the oil rig industry, especially in air transportation. These accidents usually occur because of mechanical problems, poor weather conditions and other factors.
  2. Chemical exposure. There are many different chemicals that offshore oil rig workers come into contact with on a normal basis. When oil is being drilled, harmful gases and fluids, such as hydrogen sulfide fumes, can leak and cause deadly reactions such as rashes, burns, respiratory issues, severe allergic reactions or asphyxiation.
  3. Fire blowouts. The Deepwater Horizon incident that left 11 crew members dead and 16 others injured was a result of a fire blowout. There are many flammable fluids and items onboard that can easily result in a fire if they are leaked. If an employee is negligent with their work tasks, a fire blowout can occur and cause a deadly explosion.
  4. Slip and falls. Surfaces on an oil rig are constantly wet and slippery, which can result in an employee falling while carrying heavy and dangerous equipment. Such conditions can create an unsafe work environment for the whole vessel and put anybody at risk for injury.
  5. Machinery malfunctions. Oil rig workers are almost always required to use heavy machinery and tools in order to fulfill their daily tasks. If an employee is not properly trained to use a machine, or if machinery is outdated or defective, an accident can occur and cause deadly injuries. The CDC reported that 16 percent of maritime work-related deaths between 2003 and 2012 were caused by equipment or other objects.

Maritime law has protections for maritime workers from certain accidents they could face on the job. If you are wanting to learn more about the Jones Act and how you can recover compensation for your injuries, contact our Houston maritime attorneys at Tilton & Tilton LLP today for a free consultation.


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