Oil Rig Accidents Crush Injuries
Getting crushed by equipment on an offshore oil rig can contribute to serious injuries that will have a long-lasting impact. Depending on the severity of the accident, such trauma could potentially be deadly.
Crush Injuries by the Numbers
According to the thorough analysis presented in the American Journal of Industrial Medicine, being struck or crushed by equipment is the second most common cause of death on oil rigs in the US.
Another report suggests that such accidents represent 26.4 percent of the fatalities that occur on an oil platform. Only transportation accidents cause a bigger percentage of deaths – 40.4 percent. Other leading causes of deadly injuries include fire or explosions (14.6 percent), exposure to harmful or toxic substances (8.9 percent) and falls or slips (7.7 percent).
A Bureau of Labor Statistics report suggests that the number of workers who have been struck or crushed by equipment was 90 in 2015. In comparison, there were 74 such accidents in 2014, 78 in 2013, 73 in 2012 and 84 in 2011.
This type of trauma can be lethal due to prolonged compression. Depending on the part of the body being affected, the injury could lead to muscle swelling, serious tissue damage, neurological disturbances, internal bleeding and even death.
Depending on the situation and the manner in which it is managed, a crush injury could lead to a number of complications. A few of the most prominent ones include the following:
- Hyperkalemia – excessive levels of potassium in the blood plasma that could eventually lead to death
- Compartment syndrome – compromised circulation and functionality of the tissue that has been crushed
- Disseminated intravascular coagulation (DIC) – inappropriate activation of coagulation, potentially leading to life-threatening thrombosis
- Loss of limb(s)
- Toxic shock
Oil Rig Injuries: Risk Factors
Oil platforms pose a number of dangers that could potentially increase the risk of workers being struck or crushed by heavy components or pieces of equipment.
Various risk factors have to be taken into consideration, the most prominent ones including:
- Slippery or poorly maintained surfaces that can lead to slips and falls
- Use of heavy equipment and machinery
- Use of unsecured drill pipes
- Poor safety training
- Poor weather conditions, hurricanes, and waves
- A lot of pressure during the extraction
In the News
There have been various reports through the years focusing on these types of injuries sustained by offshore oil platform workers.
One such accident occurred in 2015 on a semi-submersible rig called Transocean Barents in the Norwegian Sea. The Norske Shell-operated rig had one worker operating equipment at the height of 12 meters (about 40 feet) on the derrick. This is when he sustained crush injuries and had to be taken to a hospital in Western Norway.
There are also numerous occurrences of onshore workers being crushed and injured. In March 2017, a worker died in Texas after a block fell from the rig and caused massive injuries. The accident occurred at the Denbury Resources Oil Field, and the investigation hasn’t been finalized yet. Another accident occurred in Alberta in 2009. A worker was crushed underneath a drilling platform and died because of the injuries. The company was fined more than 18,000 dollars due to occupational health and safety violations.