Offshore oil rigs are essentially skyscrapers at sea—rising vertically from the seafloor hundreds of feet high. Even working on the 'bottom' floor of an oil rig means working several dozen feet above the water. It's easy to see why falling from a height or dropping equipment is one of the worst hazards oil rig workers face on a daily basis.
According to the CDC, 7% of oil worker fatalities from 2003 to 2006 were due to falling from a height. Even more deaths (22%) were caused by falling tools and equipment. In the best of times, working on an oil rig is dangerous—but when it's rainy? That's when things get particularly bad.
Why Oil Rigs Are Prone to Weather-Related Accidents
On an oil rig, outdoor well pads and walkways are exposed directly to harsh environmental conditions. In the Gulf of Mexico, thunderstorms aren't rare, which is why drilling companies need to take every precaution when it comes to preventing falls, slips, and dropped tools. As much as 36% of oil and gas industry fatalities could be prevented with adequate protections and safety protocols, according to the Department of the Interior.
How to Make Oil Rigs Safer During Rainy Season
When water is pouring and every handheld tool is more slippery than usual, oil rigs out to ensure that every worker wears a hard hat, and that every worker attaches their tools to a rope or cable when working at a height. These are the simplest prevention measures.
However, there are more far-reaching policies that oil companies can institute to keep workers safe. For one, oil rigs contain countless pumps, valves, and fittings that leak even when they're fully functional; that's why it's important to maintain them frequently. Similarly, keeping walkways covered, dry, and clear of clutter is vital to preventing falls. Employers could also install nonslip grating for all exposed walkways.
Protocol-wise, one of the best things workers can do to prevent falling due to slippery exposed surfaces is regular cleanup of storage and work areas. Keep all tools, cords, packing materials, and supplies in designated areas away from walkways, and end every shift by quickly tidying up any equipment left lying around.
At the end of the day, the safety of the oil rig is the company's responsibility. If you get injured due to falling equipment or falling from a height, you deserve to have all your losses covered: your medical care, your wages, and more. Our offshore accident attorneys have spent our careers making sure workers get what they need after an injury. With over $10 billion won in verdicts and settlements, we know what it takes to win on your behalf.
Speak with Arnold & Itkin LLP at (888) 493-1629 for a free consultation today to learn your options.