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Common Causes of Drilling Rig Accidents

Oil and gas drilling crews enjoy some of the highest wages in the industrial sector of the American economy. Although these workers are, on average, very well paid they are also among those workers that are more likely to suffer serious or even fatal injuries on the job.

On this page, the oilfield accident injury lawyer at the Doan Law Firm will briefly review the more common causes of onshore oil and gas production accidents and then offer suggestions as to how injured oilfield workers may protect their right to receive compensation for their injuries.

Types of Drilling Injuries

Accurate data on the causes of drilling rig accidents is difficult to come by for several reasons. Among these reasons, the easiest to understand is that the federal and state agencies that regulate oil and gas drilling activities tend to be very methodical and will only release their conclusions regarding a drilling rig accident “after no stone has been left unturned.” However, some drilling companies have been known not to report an accident if no one was seriously injured or if there was only relatively minor damage to equipment or to the work area.

With this in mind, and in no particular order, the more common types of accidents associated with oil and gas drilling operations are:

  • inexperienced / poorly trained workers
  • slips and falls
  • electrical injuries
  • fires
  • toxic gas

Inexperienced / Poorly Trained Workers

Drilling for oil and natural gas is labor-intensive. Many times, most drilling companies will be forced to hire workers with limited, or even no, experience in order to meet production schedules. Given the hazardous nature of oilfield work, many injuries are due to a worker’s lack of experience and / or inadequate training.

Slips and Falls

By their nature, oil and gas wells involve a number of liquid and semi-solid substances. During the course of a workday, it is almost impossible not to have one of these substances stick to the bottom of a worker’s boots and cause the worker to slip. Even though all modern drilling rigs have “no slip” flooring and handrails, “slip and fall” accidents remain a common cause of injury in the oilfield.

Electrical Injuries

Although much oil and gas drilling occurs in relatively remote locations, most sites require the use of electrical devices such telephones, computers, and a chemical laboratory. These devices are usually powered by diesel generators. It is not unusual for the insulation surrounding electrical wiring to become damaged over time and deliver an electrical shock to an unsuspecting worker.

It must also be recalled that drilling equipment contains large amounts of iron and steel. Since drilling rigs are frequently the tallest structures for miles in any direction, rigs are sometimes struck by lightning. If a worker is on or near a rig when lightning strikes, the results can be catastrophic.


Oil and natural gas are highly flammable substances and require only a single spark of static electricity or the careless use of a cigarette lighter to ignite a fire that may burn for hours or even days.

Toxic Gasses

In addition to being potentially explosive, some of the gases released during oil and gas drilling can be deadly in their own right. Among these are methane, hydrogen sulfide, compounds containing mercury, and even carbon monoxide released by diesel-fueled generators.

Many gases, particularly benzene and methane, encountered during drilling operations are known or suspected carcinogens (substances that can cause cancer). Over time, constant exposure to even low concentrations these substances could lead to health problems in oilfield workers.

Oilfield Injuries and Workmen’s Compensation

As are other workers, oil and gas crews are covered by Workmen’s Compensation insurance that is paid for by the employer. If a worker suffers a job-related injury, payment of that worker’s medical expenses begins immediately (no waiting period or deductible) and continues until the worker is able to return to work. Injured workers are also able to collect a percentage of their average weekly pay while they are under medical care.

The downside to Workmen’s Compensation is that, in accepting payment of medical expenses and other benefits, the injured worker agrees not to file a lawsuit against his or her employer. There are, however, certain legal actions that may be filed against some parties in the event of a workplace injury. These actions can be very complicated from a legal point of view and must be discussed with an experienced Workmen’s Compensation lawyer.

You Need an Oilfield Accident Lawyer to Protect Your Rights!

Every oilfield worker knows that, even under the best of conditions, oil and gas drilling is one of the most dangerous jobs in the country and that the chance of suffering a serious injury is always present. Fortunately, modern technology and strict safety regulations have reduced but not eliminated these dangers.

If you, or a family member, were injured in an oilfield accident, the oilfield accident injury lawyer at the Doan Law Firm invites you to contact us to discuss the circumstances of your injury and the legal options that may be available to you.

When you contact the Doan Law Firm, your first consultation with our staff is always free of charge and does not require you to hire us to represent you in court. Should you decide that we should act as your lawyer in your oilfield injury case, we are willing to assume full responsibility for all aspects of preparing your case for trial in exchange for an agreed-upon percentage of the final settlement that we will win for you.

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