According to theU.S. Energy Information Agency (EIA), offshore oil production in Gulf of Mexico was about 1.65 million barrels/day in 2017 and accounted for 16% of all U.S. domestic oil production. The EIA also reports that, in the same time period, natural gas production in the Gulf of Mexico accounted for about 5% of U.S. domestic production. Although there is offshore drilling and exploration in other areas, we will restrict ourselves to such operations in the Gulf of Mexico.
On this page, the offshore injury lawyer at the Doan Law Firm will review the most recent data on injuries occurring on offshore exploration and drilling platforms and then offer suggestions as to how injured offshore workers can protect their legal right to be compensated for their injuries.
In fiscal years (FY) 2012 to 2017, the EIA website reports that, on offshore rigs in the Gulf of Mexico, there were:
10 fatalities, where death occurred either on an offshore rig or ashore as a direct consequence of an injury received on an offshore rig
1,275 injuries, where the injured worker was evacuated from an offshore rig for medical treatmentor in the injury resulted in one or more days away from work, restricted work, or job transfer.
Note that, despite the low threshold for recording an injury, it can be assumed that numerous “minor” injuries were treated aboard a rig yet were not recorded by the EIA.
Although the EIA website does not give the cause of death or the mechanism of injury, it does report that in the same period (FY 2012 – 2017) there were:
63 collisions with boats that were delivering supplies or personnel to an offshore rig
647 fires / explosions
123 gas releases
125 “spills” of drilling chemicals
During the same period, there were 21 incidents where the work crew reported that they had “lost control” of a well. Presumably, this means that the on-rig crew did not have 100% control of a well’s output of crude oil or any gasses commonly encountered during drilling operations.
Workman’s Compensation for Offshore Workers
Although offshore workers enjoy some of the highest wages in the country, offshore workers are also exposed to a work environment that leads to a higher risk of serious injury or death than are other workers.
As are their onshore brothers and sisters, offshore workers who are injured on the job are covered by a Workman’s Compensation program. For offshore workers, their Workman’s Compensation benefits are provided through a provision contained in the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act of 1953 and its amendments. Offshore Workmen’s Compensation benefit programs are usually provided by a private insurance company under contract to an employer. An employer may elect to “self-insure” and administer the benefits itself. In either case, offshore benefits are monitored by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Workers’ Compensation Programs.
In general, Workmen’s Compensation benefits provided to offshore workers are more generous than those available to non-maritime workers.
Coverage for offshore workers is essentially the same as that provided under the Longshore and Harbor Workers Compensation Act (LHWCA) and may include:
66.6% of the worker’s average weekly wages
“reasonable” funeral expenses up to $3,000
spousal support: If the deceased worker leaves behind a spouse, the spouse will receive 50 % of the deceased’s wages. If the spouse becomes remarries, the spouse will receive two years’ compensation in one sum, and then the benefits will end
child support. If the deceased worker leaves behind a spouseand children, each child will receive 16.6 % of the employee’s wages. If a child is left behindand the worker wasn’t married, then the child will receive 50 % of the worker’s wages.
Please remember that although the information presented above was accurate at the time this was written, it is also subject to change at any time. For the most up-to-date information on this topic, you are advised to contact a maritime personal injury lawyer.