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  • Writer's pictureRobert Schuerger

Do People Ever Fall Off Oil Rigs?

The oil and gas industry causes more accidents than people might think. One of the most concerning risks is falling off the rig, which can lead to serious injury or even death.

Oil rigs are massive constructions built to extract oil and natural gas deep beneath the sea. These rigs are the place where hundreds of people work and live for weeks or even months at a time. However, what makes them so dangerous?

Statistics of Accidents in the Oil and Gas Industry

Statistics of Accidents in the Oil and Gas Industry

According to the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE), there were at least six deaths and 222 injuries on offshore oil rigs in 2019. This is the highest number since 2010. The report does not even tell the complete story, as there were more oil rig deaths among offshore workers in 2019 that were not recorded by the BSEE.

In fact, acquiring reliable data regarding statistics on oil and gas rig accidents is not easy, particularly those that occur offshore. This is because some of them were miscategorized as not work-related. Despite that, accurate reporting is critical to minimize future accidents.

During the first decade of the 21st century, there were more gas worker fatalities in the oil and gas business. This was due to a variety of causes, including pressure on corporations to raise output in response to the rising oil demand.

At that time, the concept of fracking was still new. Companies were still learning to handle the technique properly, which resulted in trials and errors.

Furthermore, oil companies were having difficulty recruiting enough workers for the new oil rigs. Because of labor scarcity, many workers were overworked and undertrained, increasing the chance of accidents and fatalities. The combination of these factors resulted in an increase in deaths in the oil and gas industry during this time. Contact Schuerger Shunnarah Trial Attorneys for more information on how often oil rig accidents happen.

How Common Are Oil Rig Deaths?

According to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 63 oil rig employees died in falls between 2005 and 2014. Derrickmen made up most of this number.

Derrickmen are the people who work at the top of the derrick, the highest point of an oil rig. They frequently work in extreme weather and must carry heavy equipment such as pipelines and drilling instruments. These factors are the reason why they have a high possibility of suffering from falls and other sorts of accidents.

Injuries Caused by Falling Off an Oil Rig

Falling off an oil rig can cause a range of injuries, from minor to fatal. Some of the most common ones are fractured bones, back injuries, and head injuries. These injuries can cause long-term suffering for the victims and their families.

Falls can also cause traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) and concussions. These serious injuries can significantly influence a worker's cognitive and physical capabilities, making it difficult for them to execute their jobs or simply carry out daily activities.

Another type of injury caused by falling off an oil rig is crushing injuries. In severe cases, these injuries can cause significant pain, tissue damage, and even loss of limbs.

Amputations are also a common outcome of oil and gas rig accidents. Employees who handle heavy gear or deal with risky equipment such as chainsaws or high-pressure hoses are especially at risk of them. These injuries can be very distressing and result in lifelong impairment, affecting the worker's quality of life for the rest of their life.

Even when the fall does not directly lead to fatality, some injuries are severe enough to cause death. Therefore, these accidents are not to be taken lightly.

Other Common Accidents in Oil and Gas Companies

Other than falls, these are some of the most common accidents that can happen on offshore drilling rigs.


Many of the equipment and machinery on offshore oil rigs are powered by electricity, which means there are live wires everywhere. As a result, oil companies and employees must take extreme caution around them.

Electrocution can occur in a variety of ways. A worker might be shocked if they come into touch with a live wire. Electrical system failures can potentially result in electrocution.

Oil Rig Explosions and Fire

Explosions on offshore oil rigs are uncommon, but they are really dangerous. Because they cause so much damage, such incidents have a high death rate. Workers on offshore oil rigs participate in a variety of operations that generate sparks, such as welding and drilling, which might result in a fire.

Though these activities are generally safe if safety measures are followed, unwanted occurrences such as a well blowout might occur, resulting in an uncontrolled discharge of oil or gas, leading to offshore oil rig disasters if not addressed quickly.

Chemical Exposure

Exposure to hazardous chemicals in the air poses a serious health danger to oil rig employees. When oil is drilled and processed, it emits dangerous compounds that pollute the air on offshore oil rigs. Hydrogen sulfide, a flammable gas denser than air and can cause various health concerns, is one of these dangerous compounds.

Prolonged exposure to hydrogen sulfide can cause serious central nervous system damage. Because it is heavier than air, it can concentrate in low-lying regions. To reduce the danger of exposure, offshore oil rig employees must wear proper protective equipment and work in well-ventilated environments.

Aside from hydrogen sulfide gas, more harmful chemicals can be present in oil and natural gas, including benzene. Exposure to benzene can cause health problems such as anemia. As a result, it is critical for offshore oil rig workers to be aware of potential health dangers and to take the required procedures to reduce the risks.

Common Causes of Oil Rig Accidents

These are some of the common causes of accidents that happen on offshore oil rigs.

Unsafe Working Environment

While OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) requires some basic safety measures to protect offshore rig employees, these regulations are sometimes not enough. To maintain the safety of their employees, the oil industry must go above and beyond by implementing a complete safety plan that tackles all potential dangers.

Regular safety exercises and staff training are also necessary to ensure that employees know how to react in an emergency.

Improper Training

Workers must have a solid understanding of the equipment and procedure they are working with to work safely and efficiently. Unfortunately, many companies fail to properly train their employees. This is either because of an effort to cut costs or a failure to prioritize safety measures.


Negligence occurs when operators fail to follow the safety rules and regulations or take the required steps to prevent accidents. This can happen for many reasons, including a lack of training, understaffing, financial restrictions, and the pressure to produce as much output as possible.

Sometimes, operators may also neglect warning signals or fail to handle possible dangers quickly. This can result in unwanted accidents such as explosions, fires, and oil spills, which can cause severe environmental damage and pose a serious threat to worker health and safety.

Bad Weather

Offshore oil rigs are frequently located in places where storms, hurricanes, and lightning are common. These weather events can cause damage to the oil rig's equipment and infrastructure, resulting in mechanical defects and malfunctions.

Employees of offshore oil rigs are particularly vulnerable to lightning strikes. When lightning hits a vulnerable area on the rig, it might ignite any combustible gases present, resulting in explosions and fires. High winds linked with storms and hurricanes can also potentially endanger employees by making it harder to keep the rig stable.

Can Falls and Other Injuries Be Prevented by Oil and Gas Companies?

The answer is yes. All accidents that are not caused by natural events, such as natural disasters, can be prevented by oil and gas companies by providing workers with a safe working environment and proper training. If they fail to do this, they may be responsible for the injuries caused by these accidents.

How to Claim Compensation for Oil Rig Injuries

How to Claim Compensation for Oil Rig Injuries

Victims of oil rig accidents have several options for receiving compensation. The easiest one is to file a worker's compensation claim via their insurance company. This method of reimbursement, however, may not be able to fully compensate them for all of their losses.

Another option for victims is to file a third-party claim against the company for lost income, medical expenses, and pain and suffering. To do this, victims should consult an oil rig accident attorney in Dallas TX who can assist with legal procedures, collect proof, and advocate on their behalf to get the compensation they deserve.

Contact Schuerger Shunnarah Trial Attorneys for a Free Consultation

If someone has been injured in an oil accident, and it's not their fault, they should take immediate action and call an oil injury attorney. Schuerger Shunnarah Trial Lawyers will not back down until their clients have their justice, as seen by its slogan, "We go to war for you." They can also answer questions like, "How do oil rig accidents happen?"

No matter how complex the case is, our attorneys will do anything to help the victim. Therefore, victims should contact our law firm to get a free consultation to start their journey for justice.


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