The oil and gas drilling industries are often considered the most dangerous in the United States. Workers in oil and gas exploration and production are confronted with dangerous job-related threats every minute of each and every work day.

From 2003 to 2016, there were 1,485 oil and gas workers killed on the rig each year. The annual oil and gas fatality rate makes it over six times more deadly than all other United States job categories put together.

Subgroups of oil and gas drilling, including contractors, short service employees, and those hired by small companies have an even higher fatality rate.  

Accidents occurring on oil and gas rigs, often happen instantaneously and without any warning signs. The resulting deaths and serious injuries can be catastrophic.

In recent years, research has shown a dramatic increase in the amount of oil and gas rig accidents. This is linked directly to the increased production of oil throughout the U.S.

Some of the Worst Oil and Gas Rig Accidents Throughout the World

The following are some of the most destructive gas and oil rig disasters to take place in the 21st century.

  • The Alexander L. Kielland happen on the evening of March 27, 1980. The rig was working in the Ekofisk oil field, which was located in the Norwegian North Sea. 123 rig workers lost their lives after the semi-submersible drilling rig platform capsized. The rig, meant to accommodate the offshore workers, winched away from the production platform, after being hit with waves up to 12 meters high and winds of 40 knots.

  • The Piper Alpha is considered the worst oil rig disaster in the history of the world. The disaster happened in July 1988 and took place in Britain’s North Sea. It was caused by a platform pipe that was leaking gas. The pressure of the safety valve was released earlier that day, as a result of routine maintenance. The maintenance was still not finished at the time of the crew’s shift ended. However, the shift coming in was not informed about the maintenance. The incoming shift turned on one of the affected pumps, which resulted in the gas catching on fire. The fire caused a series of explosions on the platform. The fire took over three weeks to put out. As a result, the platform was totally destroyed and 167 rig workers lost their lives.

  • The Mumbai (Bombay) High North Platform disaster occurred on July 27, 2005. A support ship crashed into the platform as a result of high tides and choppy waters. The collision caused a gas leak which rapidly caught fire. The resulting fire and explosions completely destroyed the platform within two hours. It killed 22 workers and caused numerous others to be seriously injured. At the time the accident occurred, no regulatory agency related to safety and protection of offshore operations existed and the crew had inadequate fire protection,  
  • The Deepwater Horizon tragedy occurred on April 20, 2010. The Deepwater Horizon was approximately 40 miles from the coast of Louisiana. An explosion occurred causing a deadly fire on the semi-submersible mobile offshore drilling unit. The unit, operated and owned by Transocean, was drilling oil for BP. The explosion seriously injured 17 workers and killed 11 more. Additionally, the incident caused one of the largest marine oil spills worldwide, and is widely considered the biggest environmental disaster in the history of the United States.

  • The Abkatun Permanente mishap occurred on April 1, 2015, on an oil platform in the Gulf of Mexico. The explosion was caused by a leak in a fuel line, which had corrosion from microorganisms and sulfuric acid. Over 300 people had to be evacuated, four were killed, 16 suffered from injuries and three workers were never found.

What Makes Oil and Gas Rig Jobs so Dangerous

When working on an oil or gas rig, there are an unlimited number of safety problems that can occur. Workers are often expected to work 12 hours per day.

Heavy and hazardous equipment all around the job site and the constant exposure to hazardous conditions make navigating around rigs extremely dangerous.  

When oil and gas rig accidents occur, they have the potential to rapidly turn disastrous. Some prevalent oil and gas drilling accidents include:

  • Explosions resulting from liquids being ignited by sparks from equipment
  • Getting hit with swinging cables, pipes or casing
  • Blowouts, fires or explosions in production tanks
  • Feet or hands getting stuck in heavy equipment
  • Machinery failing as a result of defective or inadequate maintenance
  • Getting flattened by heavy equipment or cargo
  • Falling from high ladders, hoists, platforms, or stairways

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) routinely fines oil and gas companies millions of dollars due to hazardous and unsafe working conditions.

Common Oil and Gas Rig Injuries

Non-fatal injuries that occur typically include:

  • Traumatic brain injury
  • Severe bodily burns
  • Severely fractured or broken bones
  • Neck and back injuries
  • Loss of limbs, due to amputation
  • Various injuries from being crushed
  • Toxic inhalation from flumes
  • Chemical poisoning
  • Spinal cord paralysis

Contact an Experienced Personal Injury Attorney Today

If you or a loved one has been injured or killed as a result of working in West Virginia’s oil or gas industry, the law firm of Goddard & Wagoner, LLC will fight tirelessly to make sure that justice is served. Workers injured on the rig should at least be eligible to receive workers’ compensation benefits.

Additionally, if it is discovered that the employer deliberately placed the employee in the way of harm and caused serious injury or death, the employee is eligible to file a claim against the employer. If the rig injury resulted from faulty equipment, the employee can also file a claim against any responsible third parties.

The attorneys of Goddard & Wagoner, LLC assist victims recover compensation for pain and suffering, injuries, hospital bills, medications, physical therapy, and lost wages. If an oil or gas rig mishap caused the death of a family member, the deceased person’s family can bring a suit for wrongful death.

With over 20 years of combined legal experience and millions of dollars recovered on behalf of our clients, you can trust us to fight relentlessly to obtain the compensation you deserve. For a free consultation with a West Virginia oil and gas rig accident attorney, call 304-470-8441 or contact us online today.