The oil fields of the United States provide crucial access to one of the most valuable resources on the planet. However, working on an oil field is an inherently dangerous job, and workers are vulnerable to many types of injuries. Oil field work requires heavy machinery, complex equipment, and thoughtful safety precautions from oil and fire accidents. James M. Heenan and Joseph P. Cook are knowledgeable Billings oil field injury attorneys that have studied the law surrounding personal injury involving oil fields.
Common Oil Field Injuries
The most common oil field injuries largely mirror the most common construction industry injuries, with a few notable exceptions:
- Slip and fall injuries. Most construction industry accidents are falls, and the same holds true for oil field work. Due to the complexity and immense scale of most oil field machines, workers who fall from great heights can suffer massive injuries or death.
- Broken bones. Workers face several types of hazards while working on oil fields, and they may suffer broken bones from vehicle crashes, explosions, falls, or being struck by objects.
- Crushing injuries. Oil field work requires heavy machinery. If an operator backs up too close to a wall or another surface and pins another worker between the vehicle and the wall, the victim could suffer serious crushing injuries, which often lead to amputations, disfigurement, and permanent disability.
- Eye trauma. Human eyes are very delicate, and oil field work demands eye protection. Flying debris from explosions can cause significant damage, and even small corneal scratches can become infected and result in vision loss.
- Hearing loss. Heavy machinery is very noisy, and without proper hearing protection, oil field workers are at risk for hearing loss over time. Additionally, sudden explosions or burst pipes can also cause hearing loss.
- Traumatic brain injuries. Falling from tall heights, being struck by an object, or being hit by the concussive force of an explosion can all cause traumatic brain injuries (TBIs). Some TBIs like concussions are relatively mild but still leave victims more susceptible to future TBIs. Severe TBIs can lead to permanent disability or even death.
- Spinal injuries. The spinal cord is one of the most important parts of the human body, but it can’t self-repair like the rest of the body. If the spinal cord is damaged or severed, victims can expect permanent disability. Spinal injuries affect more parts of the body depending on how close they are to the skull.
- Neck and back injuries. Blunt force trauma, repetitive motions, and other forces can cause damage to the muscles, tendons, and ligaments of the neck and back. Over time, these can lead to very serious and very painful chronic conditions.
- Oil is highly combustible, so fire safety is paramount. A burst pipe or fire can lead to a severe explosion, and anyone caught in the blast radius will more than likely suffer significant burns in addition to several other possible injuries. Burns are typically very painful and leave permanent scars. Severe burns can lead to infections, loss of motor function, permanent disfigurement, or even amputations.
- Chemical exposure. Repeatedly breathing in chemical fumes, or contact with toxic or corrosive chemicals can cause serious illnesses or chemical burns.
These are just a few of the potential injuries that can happen while working on an oil field. Oil field companies and supervisors have a legal obligation to ensure the safety and well-being of their employees. While workers’ compensation benefits may help some injured workers, workers’ compensation is rarely enough to cover the total cost of an injury.
If you or a loved one suffered an injury or contracted an illness from working in an oil field, it’s vital to connect with an attorney who can represent your case and secure the compensation you need to get your life back on track.
At Heenan & Cook, PC, we aren’t afraid to take cases to litigation if necessary, but we will fight to secure an acceptable settlement if possible. Reach out to our team to schedule a free consultation about your oil field injury case today.