People work in many different places in the maritime industry, and all of them have risks that can lead to accidents, injuries, and even deaths. Jobs on oil rigs, natural gas platforms, and other places out at sea that are not on ships can be very dangerous. When working on these kinds of platforms, you have to use heavy tools, work in bad weather, and put in long hours doing tasks that require training and skill. If something goes wrong in an offshore location, it could be very bad. If you work offshore and get hurt on the job, maritime law says you can ask for money. If you die abroad, your family has the same rights.
Accidents at Sea
Accidents can happen in a lot of different ways on offshore rigs and platforms. Most accidents that hurt the environment make the news, and most of these happen when drilling goes wrong. When drilling for oil or gas at the bottom of the ocean, a mistake can cause a leak or a rush of oil or petroleum that is very bad for the ocean environment. Accidents like these can also hurt people at work. On oil rigs, leaks are a big cause of worry because they can start fires. When a fire breaks out, workers on an oil rig may not have an easy way to get out, which can cause them to fall off, get burned, or even die. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say that fires and explosions are the third leading cause of death on oil rigs and platforms (CDC)
Accidents can also happen when heavy equipment used for drilling on platforms breaks down or is used in the wrong way. The CDC says that the second leading cause of death on oil rigs was coming into contact with equipment and machinery. There were mechanical problems and a loss of engine power on the rig that were recorded. From 2003 to 2010, eight people died in accidents like these.
Transportation is the main cause of accidents and deaths for people who work on oil rigs and platforms. Workers have to be taken to and from offshore rigs, which is a dangerous trip. Most workers died when they were being flown by helicopter, and most of the time it was because of bad weather. Workers can also get to rigs by ship or boat, which is another way that a lot of fatal accidents happen.
Lastly, people who work on offshore rigs and platforms may be exposed to dangerous and toxic chemicals, such as oil and gas, which is why they are there in the first place. Exposure is the fourth leading cause of death for these workers, but accidents that lead to exposure can also cause illnesses and injuries in addition to deaths.
Most Often Injured
The most common types of accidents on oil rigs and platforms kill too many people and hurt many others who are lucky enough to survive. The main cause of these accidents could be bad weather, operator error, mechanical problems with the equipment, worker fatigue from long hours of work, lack of safety training and equipment, or improper training of workers.
No matter what causes the accidents, most of the time the injuries can range from mild to severe and even life-threatening. The weather can make people get too cold or fall overboard. Accidents with equipment can cause injuries to the head, neck, and shoulders, as well as amputations, cuts, and lacerations. Burns and lung diseases are caused by fires. Chemicals can cause burns, rashes, and trouble breathing, among other things. Accidents on public transportation that don’t kill people can cause broken bones, hypothermia, and back, neck, and head injuries.
Accidents and disasters in real life
Offshore accidents are often very dramatic, and many of them make it into the news. Even though some accidents don’t make the news, they still cause damage, injuries, and deaths. One of these amazing events was the Deepwater Horizon blowout in the Gulf of Mexico in 2010. The worst environmental disaster in U.S. history was caused by an explosion on an offshore oil rig. In addition to killing 11, the accident hurt 16 workers. The bodies of these 11 people were never found, but it is thought that they were near the explosion when it happened.
In 2013, there was another fire on a natural gas platform in the Gulf of Mexico, but this one was much less bad. The fire started when there was a blowout. The rig’s 44 workers were safely taken off the rig. The fire was put out pretty quickly, and the quick response kept the workers safe and made sure they didn’t get hurt. It also stopped a second spill that could have hurt the environment even more.
In 1988, on the Piper Alpha oil rig in the North Sea, one of the worst accidents that had ever happened at sea happened. Because of an explosion and the fires that followed, 167 people lost their lives. Only 61 people made it through the disaster. The accident also cost a lot of money because it destroyed the platform that was pumping out ten percent of the North Sea’s oil and gas.
Worker’s Rights under Maritime Law
Obviously, it’s dangerous to work on an oil rig or gas platform out at sea. If this is your job, you put yourself at risk every day of getting hurt or even dying. Maritime law says that if you were hurt in an accident offshore, you have the right to get paid. The Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act is a law that has to do with offshore workers. Other parts of maritime law only protect seamen and longshoremen, so this law was made to protect people who work on oil rigs and platforms. It also protects workers’ loved ones who depend on them, so that if a worker dies on the job, his or her family won’t be left without money.
If one of these terrible accidents happens to you and you don’t think your employer is paying you enough, you can file a claim to get what you are owed. Let a professional maritime lawyer help you through the claims process and represent you. If they need to, your loved ones can also count on a lawyer to help them file claims.