Workers falling from oil rigs usually suffer severe injuries and even death. Since workers often work on elevated rigs, the danger of falling into the ocean or onto the rig floor is real. While dangerous falls from oil rigs can usually be avoided if oil companies take necessary safety precautions, employers often neglect these duties until someone gets hurt. When a worker is injured or killed falling from an oil rig, negligent employers need to be held responsible for their actions.
On oil rigs, many accidents involve workers falling from heights or slipping and falling on other surfaces. For example, when working on platforms, overhead equipment and machinery can fall and strike a worker, pushing them off a platform. Other common platform hazards include missing safety harnesses, defective guardrails, poorly constructed structures, and accumulations of snow, ice, or water.
When working at ground level, workers can trip on exposed cables or slip on wet or slippery surfaces. Improper footwear, poor lighting, and debris and other tripping hazards can also cause workers to slip and fall off an oil rig.
Workers who are injured falling off an oil rig can pursue compensation for their injuries, as can the families of workers who are killed. The Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act offers workers’ compensation benefits to injured workers, but the available compensation is restricted to medical expenses and disability benefits.
To obtain compensation for other types of injuries, victims will need to file a lawsuit under General Maritime Law or the federal Jones Act. The Jones Act grants workers the right to pursue personal injury lawsuits for injuries caused by a vessel’s unseaworthiness or negligence by vessel owners or crew members.
How Often Do Accidents Happen on Oil Rigs?
A study of offshore worker deaths conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that the likelihood of oil and gas extraction industry workers being killed on the job is seven times greater than for the chance for U.S. workers in general. The Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE) reported that the number of injuries on offshore rigs rose by 21% in 2018 and 2019.
The BSEE compiles offshore accident statistics and uses investigation results and data analysis to identify common causes and trends. In 2019, the BSEE reported that 6 fatalities and 222 injuries occurred as a result of offshore incidents. The following types of accidents were reported:
- 169 lifting accidents
- 84 fires
- 4 explosions
- 87 musters
- 20 gas releases
- 10 collisions
A victim of an oil rig fall can pursue compensation for:
- Medical bills, including rehabilitation services, mental health care, and long-term care
- Lost wages
- Diminished future earning capacity
- Long-term health issues and disfigurement
- Pain and suffering
- Mental anguish
- Vocational rehabilitation
- Living expenses
If you or someone you love fell off an oil rig and was injured or killed, you should consult with an experienced personal attorney to pursue your maritime claim.
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