Oil and gas industry workers face a number of potential hazards at work; in 2006, one of the deadliest years on record, there were 125 fatalities. Of course, nonlethal injuries can be devastating to workers and their families, and they are more common. When looking at all injuries in oil and gas occupations, including the jobs that support the industry, there were 8,500 just as recently as 2011. What do these numbers really mean? A direct measure simply tallies every worker who had an accident in 2011, which works out to 2.1 full-time employees out of every 100, or 2.1 percent of all full-time workers. Another way to record the number of injuries is to see how many days of work were missed, since injury is the most common reason for skipping work. By this method, the oil and gas industry shows three times the median number of days taken off work compared to other industries. This could mean injuries are more frequent, are more severe, or both.
COMMON INJURIES IN OIL AND GAS JOBS
Even with training and experience, a refinery worker is still in a hazardous environment and accidents still occur for many reasons. In the first place, refineries have a lot of heavy equipment and machinery. Many crushing injuries happen when heavy machinery is moving around or when objects fall down. Explosions throw debris that can impact a worker and cause broken bones or lacerations leading to disability or disfigurement, if not death. Refineries also have highly flammable and explosive substances on site, as well as heat producing equipment such as boilers. All of these factors increase the potential for an accident causing severe burns which can lead to a very long and difficult recovery for an injured worker. Other potential injuries are:
- Respiratory problems from fumes, smoke and particles
- Exposure to toxic substances, some immediate and some that build up over time
- Hearing loss from explosions or exposure to noise from machinery
- Loss of eyesight from explosions, debris or sparks, or chemicals
- Chronic pain from skeletomuscular injuries
- Catastrophic injury, including TBI (Traumatic Brain Injury)
Typically, workers who are injured in oil and gas jobs are white males, with 25 percent being Hispanic males. The majority of accidents occurred during transportation, which accounted for nearly half of reported incidents in 2011. Refinery workers tend to be risk-takers, with less concern for safety and welfare and more focused on getting a job done quickly, which adds to the difficulty in trying to reduce accident rates.
KNOW YOUR LEGAL RIGHTS
If you have been involved in a workplace accident, it’s important for you to understand your rights and what your employer is required by law to do for you. Dealing with an injury and lost time at work can be stressful on your family as well as yourself, so let a professional help manage the legal hassles so you can focus on your personal needs. Dugas Law Firm understands the burden caused by industrial accidents and we are committed to fighting for the rights of our clients.