Oil production has officially begun at BP’s Argos platform in the Gulf of Mexico. While ramping up oil production may be good for the industry and economy, the opening of another platform means more workers are exposed to the hazards of the oil and gas industry.
At Kherkher Garcia, LLP, we know all too well how devastating accidents and injuries in the maritime industry can be. Below, our petrochemical injury lawyers discuss hazards in the oil and gas industry to raise awareness to the reality of the dangers and what maritime workers and their families often go through.
Argos Platform Goes Live
The Argos platform is the first new operation for BP since 2008. The operation is part of the Mad Dog Phase 2 project, which aims to extend the life of the ‘super-giant’ oil field. Argos is located around 190 south of New Orleans, in 4,500 deep water. The platform is 27 stories tall and sup ports up to 250 permanent jobs. Argos is expected to produce up to 140,000 barrels of oil per day, increasing BP’s gross output by 20%.
BP executives tout safety as a top priority on Argos, with VP Starlee Sykes saying,
“Safely starting up the Argos platform is an incredible milestone for BP and a proud moment for our team who delivered the project with an impeccable safety record.”
While we are glad to hear that Argos started production with safety in mind, we must remember how dangerous the oil and gas industry inherently is. With Argos, another 250 employees are at risk for accidents and injuries that are far too common in this industry.
Top Risks in the Oil and Gas Industry
Working in the oil and gas industry is physically demanding. It is no secret that this industry is dangerous. The risks extend far beyond the platform to the nearby environment, coastlines, and communities.
- Health Risks: Heavy equipment, extreme work environments, unpredictable weather, long hours, and isolation are all hazards that impact maritime workers on oil platforms.
- Operational Risks: Oil and gas exploration and production involve a range of risks. Operational risks include oil spills, equipment failures, and accidents. These all can have severe environmental and financial consequences.
- Environmental Risks: The industry is under increasing scrutiny for its impact on the environment, with concerns around climate change, air and water pollution, and wildlife conservation.
Top Health Hazards in Oil and Gas Industry
Oil platforms are complex and hazardous environments that pose a range of health risks to workers. Some of the top health hazards on oil platforms include:
- Fire and Explosion: Oil and gas are highly flammable. The use of equipment and machinery, as well as natural gas leaks, can result in fires or explosions.
- Slips, Trips, and Falls: The platform’s surface may be slippery, and workers may need to move around in wet or windy conditions. This increases the risk of slips, trips, and falls.
- Machinery and Equipment: The operation of machinery and equipment such as drills, pumps, and compressors can lead to accidents if not used correctly. Also, equipment failure can result in injury or damage to the platform.
- Chemical Exposure: Workers on oil platforms may be exposed to hazardous chemicals such as crude oil, drilling muds, and cleaning solvents, which can cause respiratory, skin, and eye irritation.
- Weather Hazards: Oil platforms are often located in remote areas and exposed to extreme weather conditions. Hurricanes, storms, and high winds can pose a significant risk to workers.
- Falling Overboard: Workers may need to work at heights or near the water’s edge. This increases the risk of falling overboard. Falling overboard can cause fractures, broken bones, and head injuries.
- Drowning: If a worker falls overboard or becomes entrapped in small spaces exposed to water, they are at risk for drowning.
To mitigate these safety hazards, oil platform operators must implement stringent safety protocols, provide proper training to workers, use protective equipment, regularly inspect and maintain equipment and machinery, and monitor weather conditions.
What is the Leading Cause of Death in the Oil and Gas Industry
According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), the leading cause of death in the oil and gas industry is transportation incidents. This includes motor vehicle accidents, falls from heights, and being struck by objects. In 2019, transportation incidents accounted for 41% of all work-related deaths in the oil and gas industry.
Other leading causes of death in the oil and gas industry include:
- Contact with objects and equipment (22%)
- Electrocutions (12%)
- Explosions and fires (10%)
- Suffocation (9%)
- Falls from ladders (7%)
The oil and gas industry is a dangerous one, but there are many things that can be done to prevent deaths and injuries. Employers can provide workers with the proper training and equipment, and workers can take steps to be aware of their surroundings and to avoid hazards.
Safety Tips for Working in the Oil and Gas Industry
Working in the oil and gas industry can be hazardous, but there are several safety tips that workers can follow to reduce the risk of accidents and injuries:
- Wear Personal Protective Equipment (PPE): PPE such as hard hats, safety glasses, gloves, and safety shoes should be worn at all times.
- Follow Safety Procedures: Workers receive training in safety protocols and procedures and follow them carefully to prevent accidents and injuries.
- Be Aware of Surroundings: Workers should be alert and aware of their surroundings. Be aware of other workers, equipment, machinery, and any potential hazards.
- Use Tools and Equipment Correctly: Workers should use tools and equipment only for their intended purposes and in the correct manner to prevent accidents and injuries.
- Communicate Effectively: Workers should communicate clearly and effectively with each other and their supervisors. This helps ensure everyone is aware of potential hazards and safety concerns.
- Report Unsafe Conditions: Workers should report any unsafe conditions or hazards to their supervisors immediately.
- Maintain Good Physical Health: Workers should maintain good physical health to reduce the risk of fatigue.
- Attend Training: Workers should attend any training that is available on the equipment they will be using. Workers also should be aware of safety protocols and procedures, and emergency response plans.
By following these safety tips, workers in the oil and gas industry can reduce the risk of accidents and injuries and maintain a safe working environment.
What to do After an Accident on an Oil Platform
Accidents can happen quickly on an oil platform. It is wise for maritime workers to be aware of the best actions to take if an accident does occur. Here are our tips for what you can do to protect yourself and others, and begin protecting your rights:
- Check for Injuries: The most important thing after an accident is to make sure you are not injured. If you have any injuries, seek medical attention immediately.
- Get to Safety: If there is an ongoing incident, get to a safe place away from danger.
- Call for Help: Once you are safe, call 911 or the company’s emergency number.
- Report the Accident: Your supervisor will need to know about the accident so they can investigate and take steps to prevent it from happening again.
- Document the Accident: Take pictures of the scene of the accident, your injuries, and any other relevant evidence. This documentation will be important if you decide to file a personal injury lawsuit.
- Contact a Lawyer: If you are injured in an oil platform accident, you may be entitled to compensation for your injuries and losses. A lawyer can help you understand your legal rights and options you may have to pursue compensation.
Taking the correct steps after an accident can help ensure that you are following any applicable company policies, as well as making sure that yourself and those around you are safe.
How a Maritime Injury Lawyer Can Help
If you or a loved one has been injured in the oil and gas industry, a lawyer can help you in many ways. At Kherkher Garcia, we help and support our clients with the following:
- Investigate the Incident: We conduct a thorough investigation into the incident that caused the injury. Our team gathers evidence and interviews witnesses to determine who may be liable for your injuries.
- Determine Liability: Our lawyers can help determine who is responsible for your injuries, whether it is the employer, a subcontractor, or a product manufacturer.
- Pursue Compensation: If you are injured in the course of your work, you may be eligible for medical expenses, lost wages, and other damages related to your injury. We have the resources needed to calculate fair compensation.
- Negotiate with Insurance Companies: Our team will negotiate with insurance companies on your behalf to ensure that you receive fair compensation for your injuries.
- Represent you in Court: If a settlement cannot be reached, a lawyer can represent you in court and advocate on your behalf.
- Provide Legal Guidance: Our team is here to provide legal guidance and answer any questions you may have about the legal process. We want to make sure that you understand your rights and options.
In the case of an oil and gas injury, it is essential to have a lawyer who has experience with the unique challenges and regulations of the industry. At Kherkher Garcia, we have more than 30 years of experience handling maritime injury cases. With billions of dollars recovered for our clients, we know what it takes to get you fair and just compensation.
To find out how Kherkher Garcia can help you, call us for a free consultation at 713-333-1030.