Oil Rig Injuries: Causes, Types and Precautions

The oil and gas industry has been featured on the TV show Dirty Jobs. However, working in the oilfields is not just one of the dirtiest jobs--it's also one of the deadliest.


Large numbers of oil rig workers are injured each year. These injuries can be devastating, preventing workers from working for weeks or even months. Some injuries can be life-altering, making it impossible for the worker to ever work on an oil rig again.


Common Causes of Oil Field Explosions & Accidents

Working in an oil field is a dangerous job. Oil fields are known for causing many catastrophes and fatal injuries. One common cause of these injuries is explosions and accidents. There are many ways an oil field can explode or have an accident, so figuring out the cause is the first step in determining who's responsible.


Negligence Can Cause Oil Field Explosions & Accidents

The most common cause of any oil field injury is carelessness. When an oil exploration company, drilling company, or oil field service provider get in a hurry, they put their workers at serious risk of injury. All too often, the oil field worker pays the heavy price for someone else chasing profits in the oil field. Profit over safety is too often the practice. Let's explore how injuries and fatalities occur in oil fields.


Inexperienced Workers

Oil field work is dangerous, and only experienced workers should undertake the labour. Unfortunately, at times lower level jobs will be offered to less qualified people.

Inexperienced oil field or oil rig workers must know the safety procedures necessary for their jobs. This ensures that they work in a safe environment and prevent injuries to themselves and others.


Oil Field Employee Fatigue

Working in the oil field is exhausting, and employees are working for long hours in challenging circumstances. It is common for them to work 12 or more hours every day. The work can be 24-hour shifts. Overworked employees are more at risk of making mistakes that could lead to an accident.


Inadequate Safety Procedures

Companies that don't take safety seriously are more likely to experience accidents. For example, some companies do not create proper instructions for their employees or neglect to educate their employees on the appropriate safety procedures which leads to some fatal hazards.


Defective Oil Field Equipment

Although there has been an effort to decrease injuries in the oil industry, it is still dangerous because of all the equipment, like tools and machines. Equipment failures can lead to fires, explosions, blowouts, electrocutions, and other catastrophes.

Oil field companies must repair equipment or replace malfunctioning parts to avoid injury.

Most Common Types of Oil Rig Accident Injuries

The oil and gas industry is a difficult, lucrative field of work. Dangerous jobs mean specialized and talented employees are often undervalued or mistreated. Accidents from offshore oil rig workers are common because of the fast-paced nature of the work and the lack of safety protection for productivity.

Fire and Explosion Injuries

Oil rigs deal with oil and other flammable materials regularly. Oil rigs deal with dangerous materials like hydrogen sulfide gas, which can lead to horrendous burns if an explosion or fire occurs. A rusty fire warning system, outdated equipment, and lax workplace safety inspections could result in a fire or burn injury.

Transportation Accidents

This topic relates to the injury caused by the person who lifted heavy machinery or equipment, with or without adequate support like a back brace or belt. If the injury is due to time deficiency, equipment such as floor jacks and dollies or finding another coworker could have been used.

Occupational Exposure

Exposure to toxic chemicals, fumes, or materials at work can cause damage to your lungs, eyes, skin, or brain. The potentially harmful substances on an offshore oil rig include crude oil, drilling fluids, and chemical solvents. Ingesting or coming into contact with these chemicals could cause allergic reactions, rashes, chemical burns, respiratory problems, and brain damage.

Oil rig workers should be provided with gas masks and protective gear whenever they interact with toxic chemicals directly or indirectly. You must keep your employees away from toxic fumes that could be harmful to them.

Amputations, Lacerations, and Crushing Incidents

These types of serious injuries are painful and debilitating and affect the ability to work. Injuries caused by interacting with a hydraulic machine or falling instrument can cause severe pain and disability; anything manual labour related is out of the question.

Offshore Oil Rig Deaths

Working on an oil rig is a dangerous job. There's a lot that could go wrong on unforgiving terrain, leading to fatal injuries or even death.

Many times an oil platform death can happen during a person's tenure while outside the platform. One cause could be dry drowning after a worker has eaten or inhaled water that never went into their lungs, making it difficult to breathe.

Many dangerous jobs exist in the United States, but oil, gas, and mining derrick operators are some of the more famous. Most people don't usually die or get injured on their jobs, but for those in these industries, it's important to minimize risks and make health a priority at work.


Oil Rig Safety Precautions

Make sure you recognize and control oil rig hazards. The advice we provide is based on some of the most common oil rig hazards workers face. According to research, falls, struck-by hazards and fires are the leading killers of oil rig workers. Take action, avoid these dangers, and you may live to see another day.

Wear Your Fall Protection

Derrick's hands often have to climb raised equipment like drilling rigs and service rigs. These workers face the highest risk of falling from the equipment. Obviously, you need to train them. You can't just take the newest person and put them up without thinking about their limits! Derrick's hands are usually some of the more experienced workers. They mustn't be afraid of heights! Unfortunately, experience and bravery aren't enough.

Here are some common causes of falls in the oil and gas industry:

·        Unprotected sides or edges

·        Slips or trips

·        Improper ladder use

·        Improper use (or lack of) fall arrest systems

·        Unstable working surfaces

Watch Out for Struck By Hazards

Three out of every five fatalities in the oilfield involve either being struck by or caught-in hazards. To prevent these occurrences, employees should take extra precautions. They must prevent their tools and other objects from falling into the wellbore.

Here are some ways to prevent falling objects from striking another worker:

·        Attach tools to a worker’s belt or the platform structure

·        Use toeboards, screens, or guardrail systems to prevent objects and materials from falling to lower levels

·        Wear hard hats and other necessary PPE

·        Maintain all hoisting, lifting, and rigging equipment

·        Use tag lines to manoeuvre suspended loads

·        Never stand underneath a suspended load

·        Perform daily inspections and replace any damaged or frayed lines

Try Not to Catch on Fire

Oil and gas workers have to work in dangerous conditions. There are many flammable gases and fumes all over the place. If you let something spark, the worker may be on fire.

Here are some ways you can prevent a fire from developing near an oil rig:

·        Provide spark arrestors for spark-ignited devices.

·        Post "NO SMOKING" signs wherever a flammable gas or vapour hazard exists

·        Locate "spark-producing" equipment or facilities well away from potential hazard areas

·        Prohibit vehicles with catalytic converters from  entering the immediate vicinity of the rig

·        Prohibit open flames in the vicinity of the rig

Don’t Fall Asleep on the Job

Tip number four is don't fall asleep on the job. But, exhaustion can be a serious problem for oil rig workers who often work long hours. This leads to many tuckered-out workers, which can lead to many injuries and illnesses.

Fatigue can also be a result of hot weather. High temperatures can have some serious effects on your employees. Ensure they understand the hazards of heat-related illnesses, such as heat stress.

Follow the Safety Rules

It is vital to follow the rules. They exist for a reason. No matter what our purpose is or why we have them, following the safety rules will help reduce accidents and keep everyone safe!


Oil Rig Safety: It Doesn’t Have to Be So Hard

Investing in training employees can save them from the dangers of working on oil rigs. Workers need to stay alert and prepared for hazards, and must be prepared to work in high altitudes. Oil rig employers can help to avoid the injuries by providing the safty tools.The safety of employees must be a priority.

This article is produced by Adeela Iffat Javaid, one of the contributors to the School of Literature. Join SOL Team here.


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