Common Causes of Oil Rig Explosions -Overview
Working on an offshore oil rig is one of the most dangerous occupations in the country. Of the many hazards, oil rig explosions could be the most serious. If an explosion happens, it can seriously injure or kill many workers. Large explosions and fires are particularly terrifying because if one happens, it could virtually destroy much of the rig and harm a great many people as well as leaking millions of gallons of oil into the sea. Explosions may be caused by a number of factors.
Oil fires are of great concern to those working aboard offshore rigs. Oil and other materials are highly combustible. A simple spark could start a fire that may easily burn out of control. Fires are hard to extinguish because the fuel is plentiful. They can burn quite long and hot, making it difficult to put them out. Additionally, fires can cause severe and life-threatening injuries to a great many employees aboard the rig.
Pipeline blowouts occur when there is a sudden burst in part of the equipment that carries petroleum fuels from one area to another. It also may happen in rig operations when pressure causes the unexpected release of oil, gas or other materials. Blowouts are particularly dangerous because they happen very quickly and workers must respond immediately. Once workers are safe and accounted for evaluation and containment can begin.
Large, heavy machinery is necessary as part of everyday oil rig operations. Oil wells can be quite deep so they require oversized equipment, which can be dangerous to operate. Machinery malfunctions can happen. Employees need to be trained on how to properly operate equipment and on safety procedures. Equipment has to be regularly inspected and adequately maintained. Further, processes have to be implemented that give employees details of how to handle an accident.
Companies are responsible for ensuring the safety and well-being of their employees when working on or near oil rigs. Accidents can happen and when they do they could be caused by negligence on the part of the company. Negligence could include any actions that the company knows to be unsafe or the failure to do something that should be done to ensure the safety of employees.
A gas leak is a particularly hazardous situation when it occurs on an oil rig. Even a small leak can have disastrous results. It just takes only a small spark to cause gas to explode. Leaks can cause gas to accumulate in small or enclosed areas. In these conditions, the introduction of any type of flame could result in a huge explosion. Employees working in this area and nearby could be seriously hurt or killed.
Injuries Due to Explosions
Oil rig explosions are all capable of producing severe injuries and deaths. Immediate death can happen when employees are close to the source of the explosion. Severe burns are common with explosions and fires on vessels and rigs. Employees could go missing, and some may even fall into the water. Large fires or explosions can cause damage to an entire rig and will shut down operations. Additionally, injuries may occur during containment, evaluation, and cleanup operations.
Companies are required to follow safety measures put forth by the U.S. Coast Guard, the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE) and in some cases, Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). Worker safety is important and includes proper equipment maintenance, employee training on the use of machinery and safety measures that must be taken during each step of the operation process.
Further, companies must have emergency measures in place that address employee safety before, during and after an accident. Containment, evaluation, and resolution are necessary parts of a safety plan that should be in place. First and foremost, medical attention must be rendered to those who are injured. In cases where the injuries are serious, the employee must be evacuated to a hospital on shore.
Companies are responsible for providing safe working conditions. The failure to do so could result in injuries and fatalities. When a company is negligent in safety measures, they could be held responsible for injuries and deaths that result. Explosions are among the most severe accidents that may occur on oil rigs, and the results could be devastating. Those who were injured in oil rig accidents are covered by the Jones Act, which provides protections for workers who were hurt in maritime accidents.