Professionals in the oil and gas industry in West Texas and across the country know their work is dangerous. But, accidents caused by negligence are more common than many may think. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 74% of all fatalities in the mining industry in 2015 were in the oilfield extraction sector. The more workers there are, the higher the chances of accidents and injuries will be. If you or someone you know works in the oilfield, it is important to understand what negligence is within the industry.
What can be considered negligence in the oilfield?
When someone fails to maintain a certain amount of safety, that is known as negligence. In the workplace, that can mean your employer, your co-worker, or a third party like an equipment manufacturer. Here are some common oilfield accidents that can be caused by negligence.
- Falls – Falling is a common workplace accident in many industries. In the oilfield, it can often be fatal. Falls can occur from equipment, vehicles, and tripping.
- Explosions – Although most people don’t think about explosions often, it is a serious concern in the oil and gas industry. OSHA has implemented regulations that state the there must be exits when drilling for oil. Emergency plans for fires and explosions must also be created and
- Not having a way out – Whether you are trenching or working in an office, you need to have a way out to safety in case of emergency. If this is not provided on the worksite, it could be considered negligence.
- Poor training – In many cases, oilfield accidents are caused by fellow employees. But, sometimes workers are not trained properly. It is vital that every employee is trained well and that they only work with what they are authorized to use.
- Exposure to toxins and chemicals – There are many toxins in the oilfield, not just the oil itself. Fumes and chemicals can cause short-term and long-term damage to the skin, lungs, and other internal organs.
Traffic accidents in the oilfield
One form of negligence that many don’t consider when it comes to oilfield accidents involves vehicles. Accidents can happen to any driver, not just workers in the oil and gas industry. There are many ways that negligence can result in accidents on the roads.
- Overworked drivers are too tired to be operating heavy vehicles (or their personal ones) safely.
- Some oilfield company owners focus more on profits so they hire inexperienced commercial truck drivers. This puts everyone on the road at risk.
- Commercial vehicles that are not maintained can fail and result in accidents.
- Distracted driving is another common cause of accidents on roads and in the oilfield.
- When the industry is doing well, accidents and deaths are more likely to occur because there are more workers and people on the road.
In Texas and New Mexico, one of the worst places for truck and car accidents associated with oilfield workers is US-285. It is so dangerous that it is sometimes called “Death Highway.” The road, which was built in the 1920s, was not made for heavy traffic but now carries thousands of drivers every year. TxDOT has allocated money to increase the safety of the road and a section has been made into a safety corridor to encourage better driving habits.
How to make oilfields safer
More people within the industry are taking the safety of workers seriously. This includes the government, company owners, and employees. New technologies are being used in all areas of the sector to improve safety. This includes 360-degree cameras for equipment, vehicle cameras, and enhanced reversing alarms.
Everyone who works in the oilfield can take precautions to keep themselves and others safe. Staying open about all issues, making sure proper training is complete, having clear signage, and keeping up with safety programs are all easy ways to do this. Vehicles and oilfield equipment should also be maintained often.
What to do if you or a loved one has been in an oilfield accident
Oilfield accidents can be devastating. Permanent injuries and even death are not uncommon. Dealing with medical bills and the stress of these situations is hard enough. If you plan on filing a personal injury case, it can be even more difficult to handle, but an attorney can help. There are steps you can take to make sure the process goes smoothly.
- Research and speak with a few attorneys first. Consultations are often free and they will be able to tell you if you have a case.
- When you hire a personal injury attorney, be sure to provide them with all relevant information.
- Make sure to work with an attorney who cares.
- It is best to hire an attorney who has experience with oilfield accidents, wrongful death cases, and personal injury lawsuits in general.
Do you need more information about oilfield accident cases?
To learn more about what you can do if you or a loved one are in an Oilfield Accident, contact Attorney Dean Boyd and his caring Team. We have experience handling personal injury cases and wrongful death suits. For a free consultation, call us at (806) 242-3333 or Contact Us by email. You can also visit us in person at 4423 SW 45th Ave in Amarillo, Texas or 5012 50th St #103 in Lubbock, Texas to learn more about our Services.