EXPERIENCED OILFIELD ACCIDENT AND INJURY ATTORNEYS
As America attempts to curb its dependence on foreign oil, more efforts are being made to produce these valuable goods domestically. This means a booming oil and gas industry, one that provides hundreds of thousands of jobs in the U.S. In 2016, 178,500 people worked in the oil and gas extraction industry alone. But these rich resources come at a cost — the business of extraction is a dangerous one, killing and injuring hundreds of workers every year.
Due to the sheer amount of drilling occurring and thousands of workers across the country, oilfield accidents are simply bound to happen. Many of these accidents, however, are the result of negligence. As a worker, oil and gas companies are responsible for following proper safety procedures to keep you safe on the job. Oilfield accidents occur when employers cut corners and put profit before your safety and well being. Oilfield accidents can leave workers with injuries that last them their entire life. These debilitating work injuries include:
- Burn injuries
- Broken bones
- Traumatic brain injuries
- Neck and spinal cord injuries
Unfortunately, oilfield accidents can cause fatal injuries, too. In 2015, there were 120 deaths in the oil and gas industry. The families of fallen gas and oil workers deserve compensation and justice if their loved one died as a result of a negligent individual or company.
RECENT OILFIELD ACCIDENTS ACROSS THE COUNTRY
Oilfield incidents oftentimes make national news due to the severity and scope of the tragedy. Here are a few of the major oilfield accidents across the country that resulted in significant loss of life and injury:
- November 2014 — Weld County, Colorado, oilfield explosion
- Two deaths
- Two injuries
- June 2006 — Raleigh, Mississippi, oilfield explosion
- Three deaths
- One injury
- December 2014 – Coal County, Oklahoma, oil rig fire
- Two deaths
- Two injuries
- April 2013 — West, Texas, oil well blowout
- Two deaths
- Two injuries
- April 2014 — Loving County, Texas, oilfield explosion
- Two deaths
- Nine injuries
OILFIELD INJURY AND DEATH STATISTICS
The following statistics regarding the oil and gas industry are provided by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS):
- A total of 120 fatal work injuries occurred in the oil and gas extraction industry in 2015.
- In 2015, the oil and gas extraction industry had the third highest rate of fatal workplace injuries (behind the agriculture, forestry, and fishing injury, and the transportation and warehousing industry)
- Texas oil and gas workers suffered 36 fatal workplace injuries in 2015.
COMMON CAUSES OF FATAL OILFIELD INJURIES
There are a multitude of hazards that pose injury and death risks to workers at an oilfield. For this reason, it is paramount that employers and foremen follow occupational safety regulations and enforce safety protocols:
- Transportation incidents
- Slips and falls
- Exposure to harmful chemicals or materials
- Contact with objects and equipment
- Fires and explosions
WHAT IS HYDRO-FRACKING?
Hydro-fracking is a highly controversial drilling technique that is revolutionizing the drilling process, allowing companies to pump gas where they were unable to before — through shale rock formations.
As these natural gas rigs are popping up all over Texas and beyond, so are debates concerning their safety. Proponents say hydro-fracking could increase the nation’s gross domestic energy product, provide more domestic jobs, and decrease our nation’s dependency on foreign oil. Those opposed say the practice could pollute our air and water, subject workers and communities to toxic chemicals and substances, and cause earthquakes.
- “Fracking” is a drilling technology that involves fracturing ground rock in order to remove natural gas.
- “Hydro-fracking” or high-volume horizontal hydraulic fracturing is when drillers inject water and chemicals into rock in order to break it. Once the high pressure breaks the rock, sand and other proppants (chemicals) are injected to hold the cracks open so the gas can flow out (hydraulicfracturing.com).
- This has opened up the possibility of drilling wells horizontally. Previously, drilling through shale formations was thought to be unproductive.
Hydraulic fracturing is no different than other extraction techniques in that it can still pose significant harm if proper safety procedures are not followed. The increased popularity of this form of drilling has opened oil and gas workers to additional risks and hazards associated with the industry.
TEXAS’S EAGLE FORD SHALE PLAY
In South Texas, the hot spot for hydro-fracking is the Eagle Ford Shale formation, or “play.” More than 24 oil and gas companies are utilizing the Eagle Ford Shale play, which spans across 30 Texas counties. According to the Eagle Ford Shale play website:
- The Eagle Ford Shale is located in South Texas.
- The formation produces from various depths between 4,000 and 12,000 feet.
- The Eagle Ford Shale takes its name from the town of Eagle Ford, Texas.
- The Eagle Ford benefits from “high liquids yields across much of the play.”
ACCIDENTS AND INJURIES IN THE EAGLE FORD SHALE REGION
The Eagle Ford Shale formation has provided many jobs for residents in South Texas but sometimes at a fatal cost. According to the San Antonio Express-News, since 2009:
- At least 14 workers in the oil and gas industry have been killed while on the job in this oil-rich area.
- Workers have been fatally crushed, burned by explosions, and struck by equipment while working in the area.
- In addition, accidents on the roadways have increased as a result of the boom in the Eagle Ford Shale drilling areas.
- In 2014, there were 3,658 serious traffic crashes in the Eagle Ford Shale region, resulting in 272 deaths (TxDOT). Both of these numbers were increases compared to the previous year.
- Drivers in the region have to contend with heavier traffic, a high volume of heavy trucks, and oftentimes damaged roads.
Shale drilling companies are experiencing another boom on the heels of the recent, beneficial OPEC deal, which will only increase the number of traffic crashes and fatalities in the region as rigs return to the area.
If you were injured or a loved one was killed while working in the Eagle Ford Shale region or at any other oilfield across the United States, our attorneys are available 24/7, nights and weekends to review your case. Whether injured in an oilfield explosion, a fall at a refinery, or hit by a tanker truck, Thomas J. Henry has the resources and team of experienced lawyers necessary to take on large oil and gas companies. Contact our offices to set up a free consultation.
EXPERT WITNESSES FOR YOUR OILFIELD ACCIDENT LAWSUIT
Finding and retaining the right expert witness can be crucial to your oilfield injury case. Expert witnesses provide expertise and specialized knowledge that an average person may not have. Expert reports and testimony from these additional witnesses in trials and arbitration are an important part of advancing your case.
At Thomas J. Henry, we have spent years finding only the best expert witnesses from across the country. Each witness is thoroughly examined and questioned prior to ever participating in your case. If you have sustained an injury on an oilfield, experts in your case may include:
- Welding experts
- Process safety management experts
- Safety equipment experts
- Hazardous chemical experts
- OSHA consultants
- Accident reconstruction experts
- Engineering experts
- Confined space permit experts
- Occupational and environmental health experts
Expert witnesses help provide detailed information about your oilfield injury. In every workplace accident case, we employ an array of experts that will help our clients receive the compensation they deserve for their pain and suffering.
INJURED ON AN OILFIELD? CONTACT A WORK INJURY LAWYER
If you or a loved one suffered from a serious injury while working on an oilfield, contact Thomas J. Henry Injury Attorneys immediately. Our experienced team of oilfield accident lawyers are backed by the legal and financial resources necessary to take on large oil companies and achieve the compensation you deserve. At Thomas J. Henry, we ensure that our clients are informed throughout the entire legal process while they focus on recovering from their injuries.