Working on an oilfield is a dangerous profession. In an industry that requires working with heavy machinery, combustible materials, and large vehicles among many other hazards, there are a large number of potential hazards. Most oilfield accidents are preventable with proper precautions, yet traumatic and fatal accidents caused by explosions, faulty machinery, or environmental factors, among other variables, continue to threaten the safety of oilfield workers every day.
Oil companies are responsible for maintaining a safe working environment for their employees. Providing in-depth training, appropriate safety gear, and maintaining equipment regulations are all simple ways to avoid accidents that can potentially cause serious injury. When state and federal laws and regulations are not met or are ignored, there is a serious concern for everyone’s safety. When an accident does occur, it is important to hold the responsible parties accountable.
The most recent data from The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports an average of 107 annual occupational fatalities in private sector oil and gas extraction industries from 2016 to 2020. Thousands of other injuries were reported ranging from slip-and-fall incidents to chemical exposures. California reported 90 fatalities across the public and private extraction industries in 2020, of which 40% were the result of slips, falls, or trips. Continue reading to learn about the most common causes of oilfield accidents in the US and how to prevent them:
An oil well blowout is an uncontrolled release of oil, liquid, and gas that can occur when the pressure release systems on the well fail. There is a tremendous force behind a blowout that can cause serious injury to anyone within range. The chief operator should be trained to identify the signs of a potential blowout and be looking for signs of a potential blowout at all times. All mechanical systems of the well pump should be inspected and monitored regularly to avoid system failures.
Explosion and Fires
Oilfield workers are constantly surrounded by extremely flammable materials that can combust from even the smallest spark, potentially causing significant harm. Explosions and fires on the oil field are relatively rare but when they do happen, they can cause horrific burn injuries, fatalities, and damage. Most accidents of this nature are preventable and are caused by equipment malfunction, failure to follow safety regulations, or unsafe drilling practices.
Exposure to Toxins and Chemicals
Exposure to the chemicals in an oilfield can create major long-term medical problems for workers. Benzene is a carcinogen found in crude oil and can devastate a person’s bone marrow and blood, causing leukemia, cancers, anemia, and excessive bleeding. Prolonged low exposure to hydrogen sulfide can potentially cause memory loss, respiratory soft tissue damage, and skin complications, while a high concentration exposure to the same gas can be fatal. Effects of chemical exposure might take years to identify, so it is important to receive medical treatment immediately following a known exposure, keep documentation, and follow all recommended safety precautions.
Injured? We Can Help
Working conditions on an oilfield are unique, unpredictable, and dangerous. It is important to remain cognizant of your surroundings, follow safety procedures, and use good judgment while working. If negligence or an unsafe working environment causes you to be injured on the job site, the experienced team of oilfield accident attorneys at Rodriguez & Associates can assess your case and help you figure out what organizations or individuals are responsible for the negligence that was a factor in the accident that caused you harm.
Contact our Bakersfield, CA office today to connect with an attorney regarding your case, and determine the next steps towards your recovery.