The oil and gas industry is booming in Texas, but with the success of this industry comes a high risk of devastating work accidents. Working in the oil and gas industry is considered one of the most hazardous careers in Texas. Being in contact with powerful machinery and hazardous chemicals every day can lead to catastrophic and deadly accidents that can leave workers injured or even killed. However, the oil and gas industry is also known to have some of the most thorough and widely used safety programs in the country. Company managers and supervisors are responsible for ensuring oil and gas safety measures are implemented and enforced. All workers have the right to a safe work environment. If you believe your company is not following all oil and gas safety measures, and is putting your life in danger, contact our office today.
Why are so many oil and gas safety measures necessary?
Following specific safety measures benefits both the workers doing hands-on tasks as well as the company’s bottom line, as fewer occupational accidents should occur while more employees are kept safe on the job. There are a variety of risks oil and gas workers are facing every day, which include:
- Heavy Machinery Accidents: Many oil and gas accidents involve heavy machinery. These incidents commonly occur when a worker becomes caught between or pinned by a moving part of a machine that they cannot easily get out of by themselves.
- Vehicle Collisions: Accidents involving vehicles on jobsites and on the road carrying oil and gas cargo can cause severe injuries and death. These accidents are often caused by fatigue, carelessness, or not following applicable safety protocols.
- Explosions and Fires: Oil and gas workers handle flammable gases and chemicals regularly as part of their job duties. Many of these volatile compounds pose significant risks to worker safety. Even a small leak can lead to a catastrophic and deadly explosion or uncontrollable fire.
- Slips, Trips, and Falls: Working on high platforms with heavy equipment can quickly lead to slips, trips, and falls that cause serious or deadly injuries.
- Work Schedule: Oil and gas workers are often scheduled for 12-hour shifts, with work taking place at all hours of the day and night. They are also expected to work through extreme weather and in extreme environments, including isolated desserts and offshore oil rigs. These factors play a significant part in the industry’s frequency of accidents.
- COVID-19: The pandemic that spread quickly across the world is an ever-present danger in many work environments. Companies must provide and enforce safety protocols that help prevent the spread of the COVID-19 virus amongst workers, especially in offshore or isolated areas of the country without nearby medical facilities.
The key to mitigating these hazards is to follow all safety measures set by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).
Common Texas Oil Field Injuries
When oil and gas safety measures are not followed on a worksite and accidents occur, there are some common injuries that take place. Those injuries can range from mild to severe to deadly and can leave a worker and their family devastated. These oil and gas industry injuries include:
- Severe Head Injuries: Concussions, lacerations, skull fractures, and traumatic brain injuries are just some of the most common head injuries seen in the oil and gas industry. All are painful and can take a worker away from their job for weeks to months, losing income and potentially the ability to do their job entirely. Even a mild bump to the head can cause issues with memory loss for the rest of one’s life if not treated properly.
- Burns: High heat, steam, electric current, hot water, and hazardous chemicals all have the potential to cause severe, disfiguring burns. Even minor burns can lead to severe infections.
- Neck and Spine Injuries: There is a risk for neck and spine injury in any industrial work environment; however, that risk is even higher in the oil and gas industry. Workers are expected to regularly lift heavy objects and work on platforms and other structures that could have hazardous surfaces. One bad fall or lifting a heavy object improperly can quickly lead to severe back and neck pain.
- Dismemberment: Heavy machinery has the potential to disfigure or cut off a worker’s limbs entirely. Getting a small piece of clothing stuck in a machine can lead to devastating injuries that require surgery to fix. Some oil and gas accidents cause victims to lose fingers, toes, arms, or legs.
- Eye Injuries: working with hazardous chemicals and machinery that can send debris into the air increases the risk of a severe eye injury. Debris that gets caught in a worker’s eye can scratch the cornea, which causes pain and can decrease vision. Chemicals that get into a worker’s eye can quickly cause severe damage and must be treated quickly and appropriately to avoid permanent blindness.
Key Oil and Gas Safety Measures
The best way to keep oil and gas workers safe is to be proactive about safety measures. Ensuring equipment is well maintained and appropriately used, having clear communication about safety, and training all workers on required company safety measures is a good start.
OSHA has many standards and directives that are applicable to the oil and gas extraction industry in Texas. The General Duty Clause of the Act that created OSHA (OSH Act) requires oil and gas employers to provide their workers with a safe work environment that does not have any recognized hazards that cause or can likely cause death or serious injury. There are specific industry standards OSHA lists in its guidelines. From OSHA, “As mentioned in the letter of interpretation, Applicability of 29 CFR 1926 to oil and gas well drilling and servicing operations, (April 27, 2009), site preparation is the only aspect of oil and gas well drilling and servicing operations covered by 29 CFR 1926. Site preparation includes activities such as leveling the site, trenching, and excavation. All other aspects of oil and gas well drilling and servicing operations are covered by 29 CFR 1910; when a serious hazard exists in the workplace that is not addressed by a specific OSHA standard, Section 5(a)(l) (“General Duty Clause”) of the OSH Act applies.”
Some of the most commonly cited safety standards for the oil and gas industry include:
- Oil and Gas Field Services Industry Group (NAICS Code 213111)
- Crude Petroleum and Natural Gas (NAICS Code 211111)
- Drilling Oil and Gas Wells (NAICS Code 213111)
- Oil and Gas Field Exploration Services (NAICS Code 213112)
- Oil and Gas Field Services, Not Elsewhere Classified (NAICS Code 213112)
Houston Oil and Gas Accident Attorneys
If you or someone you love has been injured in an accident while working in an oil field or on an offshore oil rig, you may be feeling helpless or not know what to do next. You may be entitled to financial compensation for your medical costs, future medical bills, loss of wages, and disability, among other damages. Call our experienced oil and gas accident attorneys right away so we can guide you through the complicated legal process of obtaining fair compensation for your injuries and suffering. Our legal team will protect your rights. There is limited time to act, so contact us today to learn more.