Violation of Oil Rig Safety Regulations
Has the cause of your oil rig explosion been determined? If your employers are still investigating the accident, ruling out potential culprits that may have caused your injuries, then you need an attorney who can do the same. After an offshore tragedy strikes, employers will waste no time in securing top-level attorneys to protect their interests against (well-deserved) lawsuits. As the victim of the oil rig explosion, you need to do the same. When it comes to your personal health and security, there is no stronger advocate than a personal injury attorney.
Learn about how safety violations play a part in oil rig accidents, and how our firm has fought for compensation and safer workplaces on behalf of injured clients.
The Importance of Adhering to Safety Regulations
Oil rig workers face a variety of hazardous conditions daily, which is evident in the number of accidents that have taken place in the last several years. There are more than 4,000 oil rig platforms in the Gulf of Mexico alone—25% of which are physically manned by workers. Therefore, there are a significant number of people along the southern coast that are employed in this field. However, because of the constant work that needs to be done to maintain these rigs, there is a good chance that a worker may be faced with an injury at some point or another. A straightforward misstep could have catastrophic results, so it is crucial that the proper safety regulations be implemented and followed at all times.
Although human error cannot be blamed for every accident on offshore rigs, it can be attributed to an astounding number of the 1,400 accidents from 2001 to 2007—not to mention the various others that have happened in recent years.
All offshore workers maintain rights under the Merchant Marine Act of 1920, commonly referred to as the Jones Act. This is a “United States federal statute that regulates maritime commerce in U.S. waters and between U.S. ports.” It allows for all offshore seaman to make claims and collect from their employers for the negligence of a supervising authority or a fellow worker. This means that if an employer fails to adhere to the safety regulations that have been put in place and a worker is subsequently injured, they may be subjected to a civil lawsuit.
Often, an oil rig worker will be unable to return to their job in the wake of a severe injury, so they may have no other choice but to pursue an appropriate amount of compensation from the responsible party. Whether they were burned in an explosion or crushed by an unsecured object, a victim may be able to pursue damages that workers' compensation benefits will not provide. For this reason, if you have found yourself in a similar situation, you should not hesitate to explore your legal options with the help of a lawyer.
Types of Oil Rig Safety Regulations
Because of the enormous risks that an oil rig worker faces on a day-to-day basis, it is essential for everyone in the field to understand what safety regulations must be implemented and followed. Although most employees across the country are subjected to the regulations of the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), it is a little different when working offshore. Seamen that are working on oil rigs must instead abide by the regulations that have been set out by the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement.
These standards were developed to protect workers that are susceptible to a whole new set of hazards when working out on the water, including regulations such as the following:
- Maintenance must be done regularly on all equipment to ensure proper working conditions
- Workers must receive training on how to implement appropriate safety techniques
- Oil rig owners must provide free medical care to all employees
- Equipment should be stored in a secure area that does not pose a risk of falling
- Weekly "musters," emergency exercises, should be carried out to prepare for real-life accidents
- Workers must have access to the General Platform Alarm (GPA) and/or emergency contact numbers
Legal Claims of Safety Violations & Unseaworthiness
The top priority for employers of maritime employers should be the safety of employees. Unfortunately, much more often, the top priority of high-level executives becomes the profits. As a result, unsafe practices and non-standardized operations take shape to cut costs and increase output.
The results of these types of safety violations often include:
- Fires and explosions
- Wrongful death
When preventable injuries occur, the affected can file claims of unseaworthiness to uncover unlawful practices. Claims of unseaworthiness are responses to the unsafe conditions that arise as a result of a company's decision to violate the standardized safety practices of the industry. Numerous unsafe conditions can exist aboard an oil platform, and all of these are situations can be avoided under the proper safety regulations.
To make a claim of unseaworthiness, one or more of the following conditions must be proven:
- Lack of guards or safety rails on oil rig equipment
- Continued use of malfunctioning or poorly-maintained equipment
- Lack of necessary safety equipment such as life jackets and life rafts
- Inadequate number of crew members
- Lack of fire extinguishers or other means of fire suppression
This list is only a small sample of the many violations that can occur. After an explosion, fire, or accident of any nature, it is crucial to seek the legal help of a lawyer who can help you hold your employer responsible. Violating the safety regulations of offshore work endangers hundreds of lives, and employers deserve to be held liable for their negligence. At Arnold & Itkin, we are the ones who keep employers accountable.
Bringing Violations of Safety Regulations to Court
The violation of even one of the industry's safety regulations could dramatically alter the course of an oil rig's production. Take the Deepwater Horizon explosion, for example. British Petroleum execs opted for the use of cheaper, outdated equipment to cut the costs invested in their project. Cost-cutting led to tragedy. Also, the executives were found in violation of other industry safety standards, including overworking some of the same employees who were injured or killed in the disaster. After the oil spill, BP immediately took action. Not action to protect the injured workers and grieving families who had suffered. Instead, they made efforts to protect the company itself from allegations claiming that BP might have engaged in unsafe practices that were in direct violation of the industry's standardized safety regulations.
Offshore Rig Safety Violation FAQ
What’s behind safety violations on offshore rigs?
Every situation will be different, but safety violations may stem from efforts by oil companies to minimize costs and boost profits by avoiding costly repairs and shutdowns to replace worn or aging systems, parts, and equipment. Back in 2010, the U.S. Inspector General published a report that attributed a lack of proper safety measures on offshore rights to “self-regulation” and “corruption”—where workers could fill out their own safety inspection reports. Safety must come first on offshore rigs. No matter what’s behind a single violation or general lack of care, responsible parties must be brought to justice.
Why is a safety-first mindset essential on an offshore rig?
Offshore workers face countless dangers. Every person on an offshore rig, as well as managers and company executives, must have a safety-first mindset to protect workers’ well-being. A single safety violation, no matter how minor, can cause a catastrophe of epic proportions, leading to worker injury or death and damage to the environment. Proper implementation of safety standards will lower the risk of incidents like rig fires, explosions, falls, injuries caused by falling objects, and heavy machinery injuries.
What are some ways offshore workers can protect themselves?
If you’re an offshore worker, your employer has a responsibility to follow safety protocol, and they can be held responsible for any failures to do so. But, you can also take a few steps to protect yourself.
If you’re working on an offshore rig:
- Always wear your fall protection equipment when working from any height. Test it before use to make sure it’s working properly.
- Keep an eye out for falling or flying objects. Never stand under a suspended load and always wear a hard hat and other protective gear.
- Adhere to all policies related to fire prevention and wear flame-resistant clothing.
- You may be required to work long hours, but if you ever feel too tired to function properly, inform your supervisor. The same applies to heat exhaustion. Taking a break is more important than falling asleep or getting heat stroke on the job.
- Follow the safety rules! Closely follow all safety regulations. If you notice a violation, report it immediately.
Arnold & Itkin LLP Can Help You. Call (888) 493-1629 to Find Out How.
Time and again, investigations into the cause of maritime disasters such as Deepwater Horizon prove that negligence at an executive level was the cause. With a lawyer from Arnold & Itkin on your side, you can know that our investigation will not overlook vital evidence that could hold your employers responsible for the incident. When the BP oil spill struck in 2010, our lawyers were there to represent the victims of the accident, and we can do so again for you. Since our firm's inception, we have secured billions of dollars in compensation for the clients we have represented in court. As advocates for injured workers, we readily take on complex, challenging cases.
If you have been involved in a preventable accident while working on an offshore oil rig, it is imperative that you speak to an experienced lawyer about what rights you possess under the Jones Act and that you find out what protections maritime law affords you. You may be able to pursue compensation through a civil lawsuit, so you should not disregard the need to take action quickly. At Arnold & Itkin, we have been successful in helping countless victims, and their families, to recover the just compensation that they truly deserved.
If you were injured in an accident that might have been caused by the violation of an industry safety standard, contact Arnold & Itkin LLP for the legal representation that you deserve.