Oil Rig Explosions – Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

The emotional toll of surviving an oil rig explosion can be overwhelming. There are documented cases of people who have been in accidents and who have suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in the aftermath.

Overcoming emotional trauma and seeking compensation for such a problem can be difficult. After all, psychological pain and suffering can be impossible to quantify. Still, various studies suggest that PTSD is a possible negative outcome for oil rig workers.

PTSD Research

An extensive review of academic literature on the topic of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) after a disaster was published in Psychological Medicine journal. Analysts reviewed studies conducted in the period from 1980 to 2007. There was a total of 284 reports pertaining to PTSD after a disaster.

All of the studies suggest that the burden on disaster survivors is massive. While personality traits, social support, and other external factors could affect the risk of PTSD development, it still affects a big number of people.

In 2002, researchers published a thorough analysis following the Piper Alpha oil platform disaster (the world’s deadliest oil rig accident – a gas explosion killed 167 out of 228 workers). The follow-up was presented in the British Journal of Psychiatry. The researchers worked with the oil platform disaster survivors over a period of 10 years to figure out whether it had a serious psychological impact.

Ten years after the disaster, the researchers interviewed 33 out of 46 identified survivors. Of these individuals, seven met the most stringent PTSD criteria. Physical injury and survival guilt led to much more severe PTSD symptoms. More than 70 percent of the workers interviewed demonstrated some symptom of PTSD.

The Mentally-Taxing Nature of Offshore Rig Work

Offshore rig work is physically challenging, but there’s also sufficient evidence that it can have a serious psychological and emotional impact on workers. According to a 1970 North Sea Medical Center review, evacuation of oil platform workers occurs for two primary reasons – physical trauma and psychological disturbance.

While the offshore work environment has improved since then, it is still likely to affect individuals who are more prone to suffering from psychological disorders.

Hard work, lack of privacy, a mixed and isolated community of many different people, the risk of explosions and serious trauma and the constant noise related to the work of the rig all increase the risk of psychological problems and eventual PTSD.

Examples of PTSD Following an Explosion

One of the most disastrous oil rig explosions is the one that occurred on Deep Water Horizon. It occurred on April 20, 2010, killing 11 people and causing one of the largest oil spills in history.

According to various reports, numerous survivors were still suffering from this type of stress disorder one year after the disaster. Some survivors were interviewed by media, and they said that both physical problems and mental issues were experienced after the explosion.

One of the workers interviewed reported that he suffered from guilt, memory loss, and depression among other symptoms. The worker also reported having suicidal thoughts and even attempting to end his own life.

Other members of the crew have also been diagnosed with multiple mental issues, including PTSD. Frequent nightmares and flashbacks are common among these men.

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