How Dangerous Is Offshore Work in the Gulf of Mexico?

Written by: Roy Boujaoude

The Offshore Industry Has an Extremely High Fatality Rate

Offshore oil and gas accidents frequently result in severe or fatal injuries to workers. When exploring for oil and natural gas or working on an established rig, employees are hundreds of miles offshore, working with hazardous materials and heavy equipment, often in turbulent conditions. Waiting for medical help to arrive results in losing vital minutes that can affect the victim’s prognosis.

At the Law Office of Roy A. Boujaoude, P.C., we represent offshore oil and gas rig workers who have sustained severe injuries while working on the job. As an offshore worker, you are entitled to a safe environment while performing tasks on a rig platform or during exploration. Our lawyers are dedicated to helping injury victims receive the largest recovery possible under state and federal law. Contact our office today at (713) 690-2277 to schedule your free consultation.

The Dangers Faced by Offshore Workers

Drilling platforms are filled with dangers inherent to offshore oil and natural gas exploration. In addition to daily risks, they often face hazards when traveling to and from platform to shore. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), offshore workers had an average fatality rate of 27.1 deaths per 100,000 workers, much higher than the average death rate of 3.8 per 100,000 workers for all workers in the United States during the period from 2003 to 2010.

Several factors contribute to these statistics, including exposure to extreme weather, a volatile work environment, fatigue and interaction with heavy and complex machinery, all of which can lead to catastrophic accidents.

Common incidents leading to offshore injuries include:

  • Falls
  • Fires and explosions
  • Drowning
  • Helicopter crashes
  • Being struck or crushed by objects or equipment
  • Repeated exposure to harmful substances
  • Electrocution

Deepwater Horizon Explosion Implemented Changes

In response to the Deepwater Horizon explosion in 2010 that killed 11 workers, the U.S. government enacted new safety regulars for offshore oil and gas operations in 2016 to strengthen safety requirements. These rules specifically target controls on blowout preventers but also include stricter inspections and regular maintenance assessments.

The federal government also created the U.S. Department Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE) in response to the Deepwater Horizon Explosion. Part of the bureau’s efforts includes collecting offshore incident and injury data to identify trends and causes of accidents.

Where Do Most Injuries Occur?

Even with tighter regulations, the offshore industry remains extremely dangerous. The BSEE collected data from 4,474 accidents, resulting in 1,654 injuries and 23 deaths from 2012 to 2020. However, this data is incomplete, as the report does not include injuries and fatalities that were not work-related or occurred during transit to and from platforms.

The year with the most offshore accidents was 2020, at 687. It also had the most fatalities on record at six. Over 93% of all incidents occurred in the Gulf of Mexico, with 4,166 accidents. According to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, 60% of oil rig deaths occurred in Texas waters.

Categories Where Accidents Occurred

The BSEE recorded many different types of accidents. These categories involved the most:

  • 27% involved cranes
  • 17% involved fire
  • 10% involved human error
  • 6% involved equipment failure
  • 5.7% involved other lifting devices
  • 2% involved major or minor collisions

Other notable incidents involved the release of gas, spills greater than one billion barrels of oil, drilling mud, or other chemicals, loss of well control, or explosions. Sometimes accidents fall into more than one category.

Working on an offshore rig is dangerous, requiring extensive training as one wrong move can mean disaster. Unfortunately, many companies ignore training and other rules when they attempt to prioritize profits over the safety of their workers. As a result, hundreds of people suffer serious injuries or death annually.

Injury or Wrongful Death Lawsuits Following Offshore Incidents

Although injuries or accidental death from offshore accidents may fall under federal worker’s compensation programs, the amount of these awards frequently isn’t sufficient. Many injured workers are permanently disabled, while the loss of a loved one from a negligent act simply can’t be replaced. Most oil rig workers who die on the job are under 40. Victims and their families have the right to file an injury or wrongful death lawsuit to receive lost wages, payment for grief and trauma, loss of consortium damages for the spouse and compensation for the loss of the deceased’s love and guidance.

Contact Us for Gulf of Mexico Offshore Accidents

If you were injured while working offshore in the Gulf of Mexico or have a loved one who was killed, contact our office at (713) 690-2277. Our experienced maritime attorneys will give you a free, no-obligation consultation to get you started on receiving the compensation you deserve. There are no fees unless we win.

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No matter what the circumstances of your case, Attorney Roy Boujaoude can help. Contact our office today at (713) 690-2277 for a free case consultation. Our team is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
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