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Common Dangers on Oil Rigs

Whether they're over ocean waters or sitting on land, oil rigs are one of the most dangerous places to work. Between 2003 and 2013, the size of the oil and gas industry’s workforce doubled. With oil drilling and exploration thriving throughout states like Texas, California, and New Mexico, workers are flocking to drilling sites for employment. In fact, oil jobs in the Permian Basin are attracting so many new workers that populations are growing in nearby metro areas at record-breaking paces. With so many workers at American oil rigs, it’s as important as ever to make sure they know about the dangers of working at one.

How Dangerous Is Working on an Oil Rig?

The amount of dangers oil rig workers face can be seen in the most recent data released by officials regarding fatalities in the oil and gas industry. According to a recent report from the Center for Public Integrity, 1,566 workers died in the oil and gas industry between 2008 and 2017—more deaths than many industries combined during the same period. This means that it’s crucial that workers are aware of the dangers present on an oil rig.

Dangers Present on an Oil Rig


While this hazard seems obvious, it’s important to mention since it’s one of the leading causes of death on an oil rig. Petroleum is highly combustible and when it is mixed with other hazardous chemicals like hydrogen sulfide, it becomes even more dangerous. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control estimates that 7 percent of all oil rig fatalities are caused by blazes. Oil rig fires are devastating because they usually start with an explosion and end with a chemically fed fire that is difficult to put out. In many instances, crews must wait for oil rig fires to burn themselves out.


Ask any roughneck about their job, and they’ll immediately tell you how difficult it is. Oil mining is rigorous and requires physical labor and long hours. An average oil rig worker can work shifts exceeding 8 hours for 7 to 14 days in a row. As they deal with the heavy machinery and equipment used on a rig, crews can experience the dangers of fatigue.

Many are surprised to know that fatigue isn’t just dangerous on the oil rig for workers, it kills many of them when they aren’t on one. One study found that oil industry workers are 8.5 times more likely to die in a motor vehicle accident that those in other industries. Since it isn’t uncommon for oil rig workers to work shifts of 12 hours or more, their drive home can be deadly. Small roads connecting oil sites to residential areas can be dangerous because of fatigued workers driving home.


Oil mining requires the use of heavy machinery, including drills, cranes, forklifts, pipes, and more. Having properly machinery and using it right means employees can do their job safely and that materials will be handled correctly. If equipment is not properly maintained, it can malfunction. Even a small amount of maintenance neglect by a company can cause a catastrophic failure of machinery that claims lives. As mentioned above, employees need to be completely cognizant when operating such machines. Given the long hours and tiring nature of the job, too many workers fall victim to negligent machine operation.


The Centers for Disease Control estimates about 7 percent of oil field workers die from falls. With hazardous materials on the floor and falling tools, workers can easily encounter danger from an unexpected object. It is the responsibility of the employers to maintain safe environments and uphold strict protocol.

Call Arnold & Itkin for Help After an Oil Rig Accident

The oil rig accident lawyers from Arnold & Itkin understand the dangers that oil workers face. Too frequently, our team has seen employees injured because of inadequate equipment, training, or other safety issues on their oil rig. We know that employers should be held accountable for neglecting to provide a safe work environment for workers. We're always ready to help injured workers receive the help they deserve.

Consultation with a member of our team is free of charge when you dial (888) 493-1629. Importantly, you pay nothing unless we win your case.


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