Offshore oil and gas work is an inherently dangerous industry. The location is dangerous, as is the product the workers extract. If anything goes wrong, there can be a significant delay before outside help arrives. Most people recognize these risks.
However, the average person probably has an inaccurate idea about what is most dangerous about offshore oil and gas work. When people think of severe injuries and fatalities in oil and gas, they probably think of fires or explosions. Events like the Deepwater Horizon tragedy make international news and cost multiple people their lives.
Such fires and explosions, however, are rare. The deadliest aspect of working at an offshore petrochemical facility actually occurs during transportation.
Transportation accounts for most offshore fatalities
The federal government tracks and analyzes injuries and fatalities across multiple industries. The information the government gathers helps establish policy priorities for worker safety. When looking at worker deaths specifically in the oil and gas industry, it is obvious that one risk is a driving factor of many workplace accidents.
Mishaps during the transportation of fluids, materials and equipment is the #1 cause of fatal injury in the offshore oil and gas industry. Needing to travel during times of inclement weather and heading to a location where there is minimal support in the event of an accident likely contribute to that risk.
Injury and death claims are different for offshore workers
When an employee dies on the job, usually their surviving family members will qualify for workers’ compensation death benefits. However, this is not the case for those who lose a loved one working in the offshore oil and gas industry.
Working offshore means that a worker cannot make a claim for state-based workers’ compensation benefits. Instead, workers injured in a maritime industry – or surviving family members of someone who dies in offshore oil and gas work – will need to bring a Jones Act claim under federal law.
Losing a loved one due a preventable workplace accident is a devastating blow to any family. It’s important to understand your rights to seek justice under the law and help you move forward.