Archive for the ‘Oil Rig Accidents’ Category

Recent Oilfield Accidents Draw Attention to Dangerous Industry

Working in an oil field can be a lucrative profession but it is also a profession that brings with it many risks. Those who work in oil fields are in danger of injuries due to explosions, collapses, exposure to extreme temperatures, driving and operating machinery, and overexertion or stress on their bodies.

Our San Antonio injury lawyers know that employers need to follow safety precautions and that employees need to be aware of the risks of oil field work in order to reduce the number of accidents and injuries that occur. Unfortunately, towards the end of June, there were two fatal oilfield-related accidents in Texas within just a few days of each other. These two accidents served as an important reminder of how dangerous oilfield work can be.

Oilfield Accidents Lead to Deaths

According to KENS 5 San Antonio, one of the two workers who died was a Big Spring man who was crushed in an oil rig collapse.

The other fatal incident occurred when two employees of Earthco were working on a large heater tank that was intended to be used to prepare oil to be transported. The large tank rolled into a 59-year-old worker who was helping to work on the tank. The older worker was caught between the large heater tank and another piece of equipment. He suffered injuries as a result of being crushed between the two pieces of equipment. Although he was taken to the hospital and received medical attention, he later died of his injuries.

Crushing accidents can cut off blood flow and circulation to affected body parts, can cause nerve injury and secondary infection, can damage blood vessels and can cause bone fractures. The injuries sustained in crushing accidents are often very serious and, as in this case, can often lead to the death of the accident victim.

Unfortunately, crushing accidents are just one of many serious risks that workers face on oilfields, especially if employers fail to live up to safety obligations. Employers involved in these recent fatal accidents on oilfields are currently under investigation by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, according to KENS 5.

Workers Rights in Oilfield Accident Cases

Workers injured in accidents on oilfields may pursue workers’ compensation claims to obtain payment of medical bills and to provide payment of disability income.

Often, oilfield work requires an employee to be in great physical shape in order to do strenuous manual labor and to withstand the conditions in the oil field. As a result, even a more minor injury can effectively end a career in oilfield work and can result in a worker receiving either partial or permanent disability benefits depending upon whether the worker cannot work at all or is simply left with no options other than to take a lighter-duty, lowering paying job.

When the oilfield work leads to fatalities, as it did in these two Texas accidents, then the surviving family members could obtain death benefits from workers’ compensation, which would provide support to spouses and kids of the deceased.

Oilfield workers who are not employees covered by workers compensation or who sustain injuries that result from the negligence of a non-employer could also be entitled to make a personal injury claim for damages, while the family members of workers who are killed under these circumstances could pursue a wrongful death claim for compensation.

If you’ve been injured in an accident, contact the Herrera Law Firm at 800-455-1054 for a free case evaluation.

Worker Dies in Texas Tank Accident

Recently, My San published a tragic story about the death of a 38-year-old worker of an oilfield services company. The worker was working at Abilene Pipe in West Texas at the time of the fatal accident, which occurred as he was helping to load tanks onto a trailer.

Our San Antonio injury attorneys know that oilfields are dangerous places where any number of workplace hazards exist. We are saddened that the accident at Abilene Pipe resulted in the loss of a life and we urge employees and oil service companies to try to take steps to reduce the accident risks.

The Tank Accident

According to My San, the 38-year-old worker who was killed was assisting in the process of loading tanks onto a trailer. This is a routine part of the job as the tanks must be loaded for transport.

Unfortunately, a tank being loaded onto the trailer began to roll and it struck the worker. When the tank struck, it caused a serious head injury, which ultimately proved fatal. The young worker was pronounced dead at the accident scene.

Avoiding Tank Accidents and Staying Safe

It is not clear what caused the tanker to roll in this unfortunate incident. However, while the cause of the tank accident has not yet been determined in this tragic situation, it is clear that such accidents should never happen and that there should be safeguards in place to make sure that workers are protected from injuries when loading tanks.

One of the biggest dangers to workers when loading tanks is that the liquid in the tank may become unevenly distributed, causing the tank to become unbalanced. This can lead to a tank rolling over, as it did in this tragic case. It is important that workers loading tanks are aware of this danger and that reasonable precautions are taken to prevent such incidents from occurring.

Employers, ultimately, are the ones responsible for having safe policies and procedures in place for loading tanks. This includes providing a safe loading zone, providing protective gear and equipment to workers as needed, training workers in safe loading, supervising workers, having experts on hand to supervise the loading process and having other policies in place that are designed to reduce the dangers of a tank becoming unstable and rolling.

While employees should also exercise caution, including monitoring the tank closely for signs of unbalance, it is ultimately the employer who has the power to do the most to prevent accidents. This is why employers can be held responsible for paying for the costs of workplace injuries through workers’ compensation claims or under other worker protection laws.

If you’ve been injured in an accident, contact the Herrera Law Firm at 800-455-1054 for a confidential consultation.

Lucrative U.S. Oil Industry Draws Workers, Increases Accident Risks

Reports from the International Energy Agency indicate that the U.S. is poised to surpass Saudia Arabia in oil production in the next eight years, with hopes of being energy independent within a decade.

Our San Antonio injury lawyers know this is good news overall for the industry and the country. However, it’s inevitably going to mean a spike in accidents as well, particularly if petroleum companies grow without careful regard to implementation of safety procedures.

According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, crude oil production in the U.S. soared by 14 percent from 2008 to 2011. During that same time, natural gas production increased by 10 percent.

Global energy demand over the next 23 years is expected to balloon by more than a third, with demand for oil in the Middle East, India and China driving about 60 percent of that growth. This will drive up prices, as well as the need for more workers to help domestic companies produce.

The U.S. is unique in this regard in that in comparison to other burgeoning oil-rich countries, such as Singapore, we have a greater crop of experienced workers. Those with chemical and engineering backgrounds are becoming more and more important.

As of right now, many of those wells and platforms are based in the Gulf of Mexico, off the shores of Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Florida. However, the demand may push some companies to press forward in exploring new frontiers such as Alaska and new offshore zones.

Around the world, there were an estimated 540 offshore oil rigs last year. By the end of this year, we’re expecting that number to grow by more than 50. By the end of next year, we can expect another 30 or so. This is going to mean that over the next year to year-and-a-half, we’re looking at another 11,000 new jobs, with about 185 employees stationed on each rig.

Even the least skilled on these rigs are making between $18 and $20 an hour, making it a job for which people are clamoring.

But skilled labor is tougher to find. The demand may mean that those with lesser experience will be pushed faster up the ranks, increasing the potential for accidents and injuries.

Additionally, some of the most lucrative operations – i.e., deepwater drilling – are also some of the most dangerous.

Still, a report from the Deepwater Horizon Study Group at the University of California, Berkeley, indicates that both deepwater and shallow water projects pose significant risks of blowouts, explosions, spills, fires and worker injury.

During the Congressional hearings held after the Deepwater Horizon spill, oil executives testified they cut cost and consequently safety measures were not up to regulation standards. Even before the explosion and spill, you had workers suffering from burns, head injuries, broken bones and death. Most commonly, these injuries were sustained due to faulty grating, faulty blocks or cables, wet or obstructed walkways or cathead slips.

When these workers suffer an injury, it’s often devastating to the person’s entire family. Seeking compensation for medical bills, lost wages and other damages is critical.

If you’ve been injured in an oil rig accident, you may be entitled to compensation. Contact the Herrera Law Firm at 800-455-1054 for a confidential consultation.

Texas Oil Rig Accidents & The Eagle Ford Shale

Even before the Deepwater Horizon disaster in the Gulf of Mexico, the inherent risk of oil rig injuries in Texas was a daily fact of life for many families. In the fast-growing Eagle Ford Shale region of South Texas, motorists and oil workers alike are facing increased accident risks.

Working on offshore oil and gas rigs has long been one of America’s most dangerous occupations. Employees routinely work 12-hour shifts, in dangerous conditions, while isolated hundreds of miles off the coast for several weeks at a time. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports 120 employees were killed on oil and gas rigs in 2008. Nearly half were killed in transportation incidents, 1 in 4 fatal accidents involved a worker being struck by an object, and most of the remainder involved injuries resulting from fires or explosions.

Texas oil rig accidents claimed 41 lives that year — most in the nation. Eagle Ford Shale accidents in South Texas continue to be of increasing concern. Other states that reported the most fatal gas and oil rig accidents included Oklahoma (21) and Louisiana (13). Over the last 5 years, the number of fatal oil rig accidents in Texas has increased by 20 percent. Oil and gas workers most at risk for injury include roustabouts, roughnecks, toolpushers, drillers and truck drivers.

The Houston Chronicle reported earlier this summer that Eagle Ford’s highly productive wells and vast size are combining to make it the nation’s busiest and best shale play. Thus far, the Eagle Ford wells are producing more on a per-well basis thank the Bakken Shale area of North Dakota and Montana, currently the nation’s top play. Eagle Ford wells are delivering an average of 300 to 600 barrels a day, based on peak production, compared to about half that for wells in the Bakken. The Eagle Ford play also covers 400 miles, from East Texas south to San Antonio and the border.

The Centers for Community and Business Research at the University of Texas at San Antonio estimates Eagle Ford will produce 65 million barrels of oil this year — compared to the 36.6 million barrels produced last year. As our San Antonio trucking accident attorneys have reported, the increased production is also being blamed for a drastic increase in commercial trucking accidents in the region.

Frequently, we find cut corners and a profit motive involved in such accidents. In the wake of the deadly BP refinery explosion in Texas City in 2005, which killed 15 oil workers and injured 190 others, the Chemical Safety Board found evidence of cost-cutting on maintenance, employee fatigue caused by extended work hours, and other risks caused by aging equipment.

Challenges remain across the border as well. The Washington Post reported earlier this month that a pipeline blast in Mexico, across the border from McAllen, claimed the lives of 30 workers and injured 46 others at Pemex — Mexico’s predominant oil company.

If you’ve been injured in an accident, contact The Herrera Law Firm, Inc at 800-455-1054 for a confidential consultation.