Oil Rig Accidents – Lost Limbs and Dismemberment
Oil rig accidents can be common because of the dangerous nature of the work. The operation of heavy machinery, the risk of slips and falls, as well as explosions, could potentially contribute to serious health risks.
In some accidents, the amputation of a limb may be required, or a worker may suffer dismemberment. These medical problems leave a lasting impact on the life of an individual, and they’re usually linked to the accumulation of serious medical costs.
Loss of Limbs and Negligence
Depending on the situation, offshore oil rig workers may be classified as seamen under the Jones Act. In this instance, they will have the right to seek compensation for employer or staff negligence that contributed to the accident.
A determination is made on the basis of the oil rig that the worker is on. A stationary rig that is affixed to one position does not qualify as a seaworthy vessel. In such instances, the Jones Act provisions will not apply.
Several other legal provisions could apply to the work of oil platform professionals and could entitle them to financial compensations in the case of limb amputations or dismemberment. A few of these statutes include:
- Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act: this provision applies to workers on outer continental shelf oil platforms. Under the act, these workers could get various kinds of compensation for limb loss – medical costs, compensation for physical limitations, lost wages, physical and emotional suffering, physical pain and disfigurement compensation.
- Death on the High Seas Act: this statute provides financial compensation to the family of a worker killed on an offshore platform. This statute applies whenever a worker dies three nautical miles away from the shore, and it envisions the payment of pecuniary damages.
- Longshore and Harbor Worker’s Compensation Act: this one applies to workers who aren’t classified as seamen under the Jones Act. Once again, these workers will be entitled to various kinds of compensation in the case of a limb loss or dismemberment – medical costs, transportation coverage, permanent disability and rehabilitation costs among various others.
Risk Factors and Possible Complications
There are several risk factors that make the loss of limbs or dismemberment on these rigs more likely. Such risks can usually be avoided altogether through the introduction of safety measures and proper worker training:
- Lack of proper training pertaining to safety measures and work with specialized equipment
- Problems with equipment maintenance and functionality
- Poor navigation choices in the case of a movable rig
- Lack of safety equipment
- Use of unsecured drill pipes
- Use of poor lifting techniques
Whenever the loss of a limb or dismemberment occurs, there will be a risk of additional complications. A few of the most common ones include:
- Rhabdomyolysis (muscle breakdown and protein release that could potentially contribute to toxic shock or kidney failure)
- Amputation of a limb
- Permanent disability
- Death caused by severe bleeding, infection or shock
The Most Prominent Accidents that have Caused Loss of Limbs or Dismemberment
One of the most brutal cases of dismemberment occurred on the Byford Dolphin semi-submersible oil rig in the North Sea. In 1983, explosive decompression occurred on the rig. It killed four divers and one dive tender. Another dive tender was injured seriously.
Four divers were located in a decompression chamber system while drilling the Frigg gas field. One of the divers was about to close the chamber’s door when explosive decompression occurred (due to a failure to follow the standard procedure). Three divers died immediately. The fourth one, who was attempting to close the door of the chamber, was violently dismembered.