As the oil and gas industry continues to grow across the globe, thousands of Americans are fill a wide range of positions within it. The rich oilfields of Texas are among the most fruitful in the country, yielding up to a quarter of the nation’s oil production each year. Unfortunately, a consistent market and demand for workers contributes a relatively high number of injuries and fatalities on the job. In Texas specifically, the extraction of oil and gas itself is a big source of employment, but there has also been a boom in the support activities. All of these jobs put workers in the path of bone-crushing machinery, explosive gases, and cancer-causing chemicals.
According to statistics listed by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), the oil industry reported 489 workers killed on the job from 2013 to 2017. Many factors contribute to this alarming number, including the presence of hazardous chemicals and dangerous machinery in the field, as well as the rigorous work schedule maintained by many employees.
Some of the most common causes of oilfield accidents involving injury or death include:
- being caught or crushed by machinery
- exposure to toxic chemicals
- transportation accidents
- being struck by debris or equipment
- heavy vibrations
Oilfield accidents can lead to a wide range of injuries, from mild burns to severe bone damage and even death. Safety measures can be taken to prevent accidents and to mitigate the resulting damages, with adherence to regulations required by OSHA. Safety equipment plays an important role in preventative steps. Hardhats, safety glasses, gloves, boots, and other items are essential in protecting workers; and, supervisors must stress the importance of properly maintaining and utilizing safety gear.
Burn injuries specifically are a common occurrence and have a wide variety of causes, including the ones we think of most – like fire, intense steam, or hot liquid. Burns can also be caused by excessive radiation, contact with caustic industrial or household materials, inhalation burns from breathing in hot air or gases or toxic vapors like carbon monoxide, or electrical burns from contact with electrical sources.
Communities in energy producing areas have also seen a rise in road deaths. In fact, energy industry adjacent communities account for close to half of all traffic fatalities in Texas. The Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) found that 1,673 people died in 2018 and more than 6,000 were seriously injured in motor vehicle crashes in Texas areas where oil and gas exploration is prevalent. This represents a four percent increase over 2017. Driving conditions in many of the oil-producing areas have changed dramatically since the discovery of record-breaking amounts of natural resources in these areas. The introduction of many more heavy trucks, including 18-wheelers and commercial vehicles, along with increased traffic in general has made driving in these previously sparsely populated communities more challenging than ever before. Additionally, the ongoing “oil boom” prosperity has enticed less experienced drivers to fill the energy industry’s needs, causing a dramatic increase in 18-wheeler and commercial vehicle accidents in or near new drilling sites. Poor commercial driving, along with old and inadequately maintained transportation infrastructure and an ever-increasing driver population, has turned Texas rural roads hazardous.
No matter how it occurred, even a seemingly minor oilfield injury can come with a host of financial burdens. Victims and their families may be shouldered with the cost of hospital visits, medications, physical therapy, special equipment, and other necessary medical treatment. It is important to understand what options are available before accepting any payments; and your employer’s workers compensation status is the first place to start. For workers compensation nonsubscribers, the only way for an oilfield accident victim to obtain compensation is through filing a personal injury lawsuit.
Texas Oilfield Accident Lawyers
More than one party may be at fault for an oilfield accident, and determining liability can be challenging. Experienced Texas oilfield accident lawyers can be invaluable in analyzing the details of your case. The experienced workplace injury lawyers of Adame Garza LLP can review your unique situation and determine the liable parties involved in the incident, as well as how much compensation you need to cover all of the costs resulting from the accident. Contact us today to schedule a free consultation.