If you work in the Louisiana oil and gas industry — onshore or offshore — you earn your income in one of the most dangerous jobs in the world. The number of workplace fatalities in this industry is unacceptable, and you have the right to be in a workplace that will allow you to return home safe after every shift. However, in many cases, you might have to look after your own safety.
Many of the injuries that occur in the oilfield are preventable, and employers must provide workers with the necessary personal protective equipment. That, along with sufficient safety training might help to keep you safe.
Typical causes of injury and death in the oil field
Many people work together in this complicated industry, and a variety of equipment and machinery types pose all kinds of hazards. Dangerous substances and long distance traveling add to the risks of the job. The following circumstances are typical causes of injuries, illnesses and deaths in the oil and gas industry:
- Caught-between, caught-in, and struck-by accidents: High-pressure lines, falling equipment and malfunctioning machines cause most of these injuries, and wearing highly visible clothes can help prevent being struck by vehicles.
- Motor vehicle accidents: Most of the fatalities at onshore oil fields follow vehicle accidents, and the remoteness of these job sites may be a reason for many deaths. Making sure that all vehicles are well-maintained might help avoid an accident.
- Working in confined spaces: This hazard has nothing to do with claustrophobia. Your jobs in storage tanks, reserve pits, mud pits, sand storage containers and excavated areas can expose you to hazardous fumes from chemicals and gases, and because the gases are colorless and odorless, unprotected worker are at risk.
- Falls from elevated levels: The risk of losing your balance and slipping or tripping makes working on the high platforms particularly hazardous. Properly functioning fall protection to arrest your fall can be a life-saving device if you wear it whenever you work at heights exceeding four feet.
- Fires and explosions: Static electricity, frictional heat and other causes could unexpectedly ignite flammable gases in active zones or upon the discovery of hydrocarbon during the drilling process. Flash fires can result, and your only protection might be flame-resistant clothing.
How will you deal with an injury?
If you are the victim of an oilfield accident in Louisiana, your mounting medical bills and time away from work might jeopardize your ability to provide proper care for your family. However, you will be entitled to compensation through the Louisiana workers compensation program, and if your injury occurred offshore, the Jones Act would apply. An experienced attorney can explain your rights and assist with the applicable claims process.