Oilfield Injury and Accident
Ector County sits atop the Permian Basin and is rich oil country. The discovery of oil in the Permian Basin occurred almost 100 years ago. Today the area is responsible for one fifth of the entire petroleum and natural gas production of the United States. Ector County is home to tens of thousands of drilling rig and oil field workers. The pay is good, but the hours are long and the work is very unsafe. The federal agency of Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) released a 5-year study in 2011 which found that more Texas workers died when working in onshore oil and gas field service than in any other type of job. (http://www.kbtx.com/home/headlines/Workplace-Deaths-Drop—But-Not-in-the-Oil-Industry-190620491.html) The study covered people employed in extraction as derrick men, roughnecks, drillers, mining equipment operators, roof bolters, welders, roustabouts, tool pushers, etc. While onshore oil and gas field service is safer now than it was historically, an average of 39 Texas workers die each year from accidents related to drilling rig and oil field work.
Why is drilling rig and oil field work so dangerous? Oil and gas production involves a lot of heavy machinery, truck driving, electrical equipment, heights, and complicated engineering. This type of work is dangerous even under good conditions; at an oil field, it becomes extremely hazardous. Handling oil and gas is naturally dangerous because of the risk of explosions, fires, or poisonous gas leaks. Errors in the drilling process can happen to cause all of these things and more. The danger can be sudden, like an explosion that causes fires and flying metal pieces; or it can be invisible and hard to detect, like a poisonous gas leak.
Sometimes companies do not provide the proper training of new employees, the safety equipment, or the maintenance required to keep a site safe. Companies also push employees to produce more money for the corporation by having employees work excessively long hours, work faster than is safe, and take risks to save time. Drilling rig and oil field workers also are sometimes exposed to danger by outside employees from suppliers and contractors. These outside employees might be untrained or simply negligent. They can ignore the rules and do things that lead to equipment failures or unsafe work sites. Companies frequently hire these outside employees so that they can save money, even though they lack control over the actions and training of these individuals. Accidents happen when the strict safety standards required on the work site are not met.
Many oil field accident personal injury and wrongful death lawsuits involve electrocutions;burns from wellhead or pressured tank explosions;injuries from defective products or equipment failure;injuries from falling tools or equipment; and falls from rigs. Because of the extreme danger of the work site, injuries are often tragically serious. Fires and explosions lead to severe burn injuries. Falls from rigs or trauma from unsafe equipment result in paralysis, brain injuries, or spinal cord injuries. Defective equipment or safety failures might mean cuts, disfigurement, or sudden amputation of body parts. And under the worst circumstances, these injuries result in death.