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The Five Most Common Causes of Oilfield Accidents


The oil and gas industry is a massive source of income for the United States, as it has made over 100 million dollars in revenue annually over the past six years. While the industry produces what some have called “liquid gold,” the very nature of its existence is due in large part to oilfield workers. These employees are some of the hardest working individuals in the U.S. labor force; but unfortunately, their work often goes unnoticed by other Americans. In fact, many people are entirely unaware that this job is one of the most dangerous in the States. To combat this lack of knowledge (and to help oilfield workers stay safe), The Law Offices of George P. Escobedo & Associates would like to share the five most common causes of oilfield accidents.

Slips & Falls

Slips and falls are one of the most common workplace accidents around the world, but working with oil increases the risk of suffering a slip and fall-related injury. Oil is such a significant slip-hazard because its molecules slide on top of one another with little to no friction. As a result, oil is typically runny and slippery no matter what surface it’s on. Dirt, concrete, grass, and other terrain can fail to make oil spills a non-slipping hazard.

To make matters worse, many employers are unaware of the potential severity of slip and fall accidents. People fall all the time, which makes slip and fall accidents seem like a regular part of everyday life. This leads employers to believe that tripping hazards are small problems that are rarely considered non-compliant with OSHA standards. Unfortunately, this can result in employers purposefully overlooking slip and fall hazards because cleaning up the spill may result in a loss of profit. As many business owners would agree, “Time is money,” and taking the time to clean up a contained oil spill may be seen as a waste of resources.

For the above-mentioned reasons, slip and fall accidents will continue to plague oilfield workers for many years to come.

Accidental Ignition

The machines used to drill, pull, and store oil are typically sophisticated pieces of equipment that contain hundreds of tiny parts. For oil workers to accomplish their goals, these parts must seamlessly work together to harness the oil found below the earth’s surface. Although oil workers do their best to stay safe while handling and using these machines, old machine parts can deteriorate and cause accidental ignitions. In fact, one news article from 2017 details how there were more than a dozen fires and explosions that occurred at Colorado oil and gas facilities over an eight-month period. Therefore, it stands to reason that fires and explosions are some of the most dangerous accidents in the oil industry.

Prevent accidental ignitions in oilfield jobs by:

  • Looking for signs of deterioration in your equipment.
  • Informing managers of improper machine use
  • Staying in line with safety procedures

Oil & Gas Truck Accidents

According to 2018 data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), motor vehicle crashes account for more than 40% of work-related deaths in the oil and gas industry. Transporting oil from oilfields is no small feat, and there are often numerous vehicles that work near rigs to get the job done. Oilfield workers are often busy with their given tasks, and cannot worry about the vehicles that are regularly coming and going from the premises. Therefore, oilfield truck drivers must take extra precautions when traveling near demanding operations. Unfortunately, not all drivers are as cautious as they should be, which can result in workers getting struck by work vehicles. To combat this common occurrence, employers should propely mark trucks with the appropriate flags and drivers should follow proper oilfield etiquette when coming in to help an operation.

Falling Equipment

Oilfield workers are often required to wear helmets when they are anywhere near the source of the operation. Helmets are such an integral part of an oilfield workers outfit because oil rigs can cause falling equipment. According to data from the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, falling objects from collapsing decking or work rigs are the most common cause of injuries in the oil and gas industry. When oilfield workers are continually pulling poles in and out of the system, a loose part can become a hazard in a matter of seconds. Additionally, oil rig failure can throw various mechanical pieces into the air at high speeds. Therefore, workers should always keep their helmets on to prevent severe head injuries.

Failure to Follow Shutdown Protocols

Blowouts, toppled rigs, and cable failures can all result in catastrophic injuries. When rigs are defective, employers should shut down operations and take losses. Unfortunately, not every employer will shut down an operation when a defect is brought to their attention. This may result in an entirely avoidable catastrophic accident had the manager or employer shut down the operation and followed proper safety procedures. If you see a manager making the wrong call in regards to stopping an operation due to a safety hazard, you should always put your safety first and refuse to work. Its better to stay safe and be reprimanded than it is to be caught in an explosion.

If you have been injured in an oilfield accident, you may be eligible to receive compensation for your wounds. At the Law Offices of George P. Escobedo & Associates, our goal is to pursue justice for hardworking oilfield workers who are injured by no fault of their own. If you would like to contact us, follow this link to schedule a free consultation.

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