Knowledgeable Oklahoma City Oil Filed Lawyers Helping Victims of Drilling Accidents
Helping Oklahoma oil field workers who were hurt while drilling or working in wells
The men and women who work in the Oklahoma oil and gas extraction industry face workplace hazards every day to build this industry that is vital to our state’s thriving economy. Given the dangers inherent in working in oil fields and well drilling operations, workers sustain injuries every day and some workers lose their lives in oil field accidents. Oil and gas workers who are injured on the job may qualify for workers’ compensation benefits, which cover their medical bills, a partial wage-loss benefit, vocational rehabilitation services and death benefits for the family members of workers who die in workplace accidents.
At the Oklahoma City injury law firm of Cunningham & Mears, we help workers in the oil fields to recover workers’ compensation benefits after a workplace injury or the diagnosis of an occupational disease. We also help workers’ who might not qualify for workers’ compensation file personal injury lawsuits for work-related injuries. If you are facing any kind of legal dispute regarding your worker’s compensation benefits, we invite you to schedule a free consultation to discuss your case and discover your legal options.
Fatal falls during well drilling operations in the oil and gas extraction industry
An oil well is a massive piece of machinery with the force to dig deep into the earth to extract oil and natural gas. With all the moving parts, its height and the fact that it is such a powerful machine makes it hazardous for workers to work with oil drilling machines. It is well known that the oil and gas extraction industry is a dangerous one.
In researching the fatality rate for the oil and gas extraction industry in the United States, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) noticed that during a time when overall fatality rates were falling, they were increasing for falls as the cause of death. The researchers took a closer look at fatal fall injuries in the oil and gas industry using data from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and found that fall fatalities occurred most often when will drilling rigs were being assembled or disassembled at the well site, or when workers were either inserting or removing drill pipe into a wellbore.
The researchers recommended that companies should update their fall protection programs and make sure that they have effective fall prevention programs in place for workers in positions where they are at a high risk for falls. This includes training in the proper use, fit and inspection of personal protective equipment (PPE).
Fall prevention requirements
One of the pervasive hazards of working in the oil and gas extraction industry is the necessity to work on drilling platforms that are high off the ground, or high above the surface of the water. When a worker falls from a well drilling platform, or other pieces of equipment that are high above the ground, they are at risk of catastrophic injuries if they survive the fall, and thereby they are risking death.
OSHA has requirements for fall protection to prevent falls from elevated positions. They have published training materials which cover the sources of slip, trip and fall hazards in the industry, fall injury prevention and fall protection, which address specific standards for every industry.
Other types of oil and gas industry accidents that can cause injury
When workers do not have the appropriate training, when they do not have appropriate personal protective equipment, and when safety measures are not taken, work that is already dangerous can become deadly. Here are more examples of oil field accidents that can cause serious injury and death:
- Collapsed rigs
- Well pad explosions
- Exposure to toxic fumes
- Defective equipment or machinery
- Explosions and fires
- Objects falling on workers
Are you covered by Oklahoma workers’ compensation? Maybe not
Oklahoma is a leading energy producer whose economy is focused on oil and natural gas production and the increasing production of energy from wind. (State Impact NPR) Unfortunately, the oil and gas industry takes a steep toll on its workers in terms of serious injuries and fatalities from well explosions, transportation crashes and malfunctioning equipment.
When you get hurt at work whether from a fall on an oil well, in a transportation accident, or any other type of oil field injury, you may qualify for workers’ compensation. You are required to notify your employer of the injury and then seek medical attention immediately. Oklahoma workers’ compensation covers the medical expenses you incur related to your workplace accident or your occupational illness. It also includes a partial wage replacement benefit for the time you lose at work recovering from your injuries. You may also be eligible for vocational rehabilitation if you are required to change jobs or industries after your injury. Workers’ compensation also includes a death benefit for the loved ones of those who die in workplace accidents.
Not all oil and gas industry workers qualify for workers’ compensation, and there are some instances where workers who are covered by workers’ comp insurance may want to take legal action against a third-party property owner whose negligence was partly or wholly responsible for their injury. Also, if the injury was a result of using a defective or malfunctioning piece of equipment, the worker might take legal action against the equipment manufacturer in a personal injury lawsuit.
Earlier this year, the Oklahoma Supreme Court ruled that workers can sue oil and natural gas companies when a worker is killed or injured at work. The court struck down a workers’ compensation law that had exempted oil and gas companies from lawsuits filed by injured workers, or the relatives of deceased workers who died in workplace injuries. The statute that was struck down was ruled unconstitutional because it treated the oil and gas industry differently than other industries.
If you work in the oil and gas industry and you were injured in a fall during a well drilling operation, or if you have lost a loved one who suffered a fatal oil field injury, the Oklahoma City oil field injury attorneys at Cunningham & Mears are dedicated to helping you. We make sure that you understand your rights after a workplace injury, and we fight to protect your rights and to make sure that you recover the maximum compensation.
If you have sustained an oil field injury, we are here to help
At Cunningham & Mears, our Oklahoma City lawyers are here to provide you with the help you need after a workplace injury or an occupational disease. If we cannot represent you, we will refer you to another workers’ compensation attorney who can. You may learn more about Oklahoma workers’ compensation laws and how we help injured clients when you contact us or call 405-232-1212 today for a free initial consultation.