Dangerous Jobs in the Oil and Gas Industry

The oil and gas industry provide good paychecks for many employees and contractors. This is, in part, due to the risks of death and serious injury in these demanding jobs. Employees who are injured on the job normally file a workers’ compensation with their employer. In workers’ compensation cases, there is no need to show the employer was negligent or failed to followed safety rules, Independent contractors do have the right to file a personal injury claim against an employer if the employer was irresponsible. In addition, all workers have the right to hold manufacturers of defective equipment accountable.

Why oil and gas industry jobs are so dangerous

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Oklahoma was second among the 50 states for deaths in the oil and gas industry sector for 2014, the most recent date available. (Texas had the most deaths in this sector.) The deaths occurred in the following categories of workers:

  • 45% in service company work
  • 27% of the deaths were due to drilling
  • 8% of the deaths were in the oil and gas extraction sector

November and December were the worst months for deaths.

Work in the oil and gas industry is often dangerous due to the longs shifts that employees and contractors work. Injuries and deaths are often due to motor vehicle accidents; handling large equipment such as cranes, forklifts, and winch trucks; and the repair of rigs and equipment. The CDC found that after vehicle accidents, the most common causes of death were being struck by a falling object and explosions or fires.

According to Oil Field Job Shop, some of the most dangerous jobs are:

  • Derrick Hands. These workers monitor drill pipes. This includes monitoring the insertion and extraction of machinery that “bores down into the drilling hole.” Derrick hands also supervise the maintenance and fixing of equipment and fix equipment jams. The changing weather and grueling shifts make this a very tough job. Part of the job risk is “climbing and hanging at high places” on a daily basis.
  • These workers are hired to do strenuous physical labor in hot summers and cold winters. They operate drilling equipment and dangerous machines. Most roustabouts are entry-level workers. They are the front-line works – men and women – who lift heavy objects, repair pumps, and perform other arduous tasks. Injuries to the back and neck are common. Many suffer repetitive stress injuries. If equipment fails or isn’t used properly, the workers hands and feet may become crushed.
  • Oilfield Drivers. These workers often also work long shifts – sometimes up to 20 hours in a row. Fatigue is a leading contributor to outfield driver injuries along with the difficulty of operating the vehicles used in the oil and gas sectors. Many oilfield vehicles are not properly inspected and maintained.

If a loved one was killed while working in the oil and gas industry, the family may have the right to file a wrongful death claim or a workers’ compensation claim. Injured employees are generally entitled to payment of their medical bills and a sizeable portion of their wages regardless of fault. Contractors may be able to claim lost wages, medical bills and pain and suffering compensation. At Cunningham & Mears, our gas and oil industry lawyers have the experience and resources to help you get justice. To schedule an appointment, call our Oklahoma City lawyers at 405.212.9234 or use our contact form.