Offshore workers are individuals who work in the oil, gas, and other industries that operate offshore. They typically work on offshore platforms, drilling rigs, floating production units, and other vessels in the open sea or near-shore waters.
Offshore workers perform their duties under often extreme conditions. Not only do they operate in high-risk environments, but offshore work often requires use of heavy machinery and equipment, and exposure to potentially toxic chemicals.
Offshore work includes a range of professions, such as:
- Rig operators
- Maintenance technicians
- Medical staff
Any of these professions and work environments can be dangerous. At Kherkher Garcia, LLP, our offshore injury lawyers have helped numerous offshore workers and their families understand their legal rights after accidents, incidents, injuries, and deaths involving offshore industries.
Most Common Offshore Injuries
Offshore workers face a range of potential injuries due to the hazardous nature of their work environment. The following are some of the most common offshore injuries reported:
Strains and Sprains
The physical demands of offshore work can put a lot of strain on workers’ bodies. Orthopedic injuries like strains and sprains are common due to the physical exertion and repetitive nature of many occupations. Strain and sprain injuries can last short- or long-term and can cause more severe injuries if they are not treated in a timely and appropriate manner.
Statistics suggest that around eight percent of all maritime accidents involve explosions and fire. Offshore workers can suffer burn injuries due to exposure to hot surfaces, chemicals, and other hazards. Burn injuries are common due to the nature of the work being performed and the fact that offshore vessels often involve close quarters.
There are several different types of burn injury that offshore workers are at risk for, including:
- Physical Burns: Burns due to fire or explosion.
- Chemical Burns: Burns caused by contact with caustic or hot liquids.
- Electrical Burns: Burns occurring due to electric shock and electrical problems in wet conditions.
It is important that workers in offshore industries be aware of the risks of burn injuries and wear appropriate safety gear.
Heavy equipment and machinery on offshore vessels, rigs, and dredgers pose a risk for crush injuries. Offshore workers often perform work in, on, near, or between machinery and heavy equipment. Many crush injuries are the result of entanglement in equipment, becoming trapped between heavy machines, or having something heavy collapse on the worker. Crush injuries are often severe and potentially life-threatening.
Cuts and Lacerations
Sharp tools, equipment, and materials used offshore can cause cuts and lacerations that may require stitches or more extensive medical treatment. Due to the high-risk environment, there is a greater risk of infection and reinjuring the same area. This can hinder healing or cause more serious injuries.
Traumatic Brain Injuries
Offshore workers are at a high risk of head injuries and traumatic brain injuries (TBIs). TBIs occurring in the maritime industry often result from:
- Slips, trips, or falls
- Falling objects
- Moving cargo
- Defective equipment
- Being struck by objects
TBIs are serious injuries that can cause long-term cognitive, neurological, and occupational dysfunctions. In many cases, TBI sufferers are unable to perform the same work as they did prior to the injury.
The majority of offshore industry jobs involve working in close proximity to water. Therefore, workers in these occupations are at risk for drowning. Drowning is most often the result of falling overboard, which can occur for numerous reasons, including:
- Slippery surfaces
- Uneven decking
- Cluttered decks
- Poor weather conditions
- Being struck by objects
- Being struck by machinery
In addition to drowning, falling overboard can cause serious injuries including cuts, broken bones, and hypothermia.
Exposure to Hazardous Materials
Offshore workers may be exposed to hazardous materials in the course of their work, or due to the materials onboard the vessel. Workers often face exposure to hazardous materials while working in small spaces with poor ventilation. Without adequate personal protective equipment (PPE), workers may develop serious health problems.
Hazardous materials that are common in the maritime industry include:
- Vinyl Chloride
Exposure to these materials can cause:
- Respiratory illness
- Chemical burns
It is important for offshore workers to be aware of these risks and to take appropriate safety measures to prevent injuries.
Offshore Injury Claims
Sometimes accidents and injuries occur by pure happenstance. Unfortunately, many offshore injuries are the result of negligent employers or third parties, unsafe work conditions, inadequate PPE, and other potentially preventable situations.
Offshore workers and their families should know that they may be able to recover compensation if an accident and/or injury are the result of negligence. At Kherkher Garcia, our offshore injury lawyers help offshore injury victims explore their legal rights and options. Maritime laws are in place to protect workers who are injured in maritime occupations. Offshore workers may qualify for coverage under the following laws based on their occupation and events surrounding their injuries:
- The Jones Act: Seamen who are injured while performing their work duties have a right to pursue compensation from negligent employers or third parties. Under this law, a “seaman” is someone who is connected to a ship or shipping company via their employment. Compensation under The Jones Act may include medical expenses, lost income, pain and suffering, and more.
- Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act (LHWCA): Longshoremen, shipyard employees, and harbor workers who are injured or become ill on the job may be able to pursue compensation under the LHWCA. Compensation may include lost income, medical expenses, and recovery costs.
- Death on the High Seas Act (DOHSA): Is a federal law that provides legal remedy to families of seamen who are killed while working in international waters. To qualify for a DOHSA claim, the deceased must have been killed due to negligence or a lack of seaworthiness. Qualified families may recover compensation for medical expenses, burial costs, loss of support, and more.
The best way to find out what compensation you may qualify for is to contact a skilled offshore injury lawyer.
Contact the Offshore Injuries Lawyers at Kherkher Garcia
At Kherkher Garcia, we believe that offshore injury victims and their families deserve the opportunity to obtain justice and compensation. An unfortunate number of offshore accidents and injuries could be prevented with adequate training, supervision, and safety gear.
If you or someone you love is a victim of offshore negligence, contact us today to find out which laws may protect you and provide an opportunity to pursue compensation. Start with a free consultation with one of our offshore injury lawyers by calling us at 713-333-1030, or by completing our online contact form.