Posted on Monday, January 21st, 2019 at 4:22 pm
Texas is a big state with a highly diversified economy. It has a huge oil and gas industry so it may not be such a surprise to learn that the state has the highest fatality rate for oil well and gas drilling blowouts and explosions. The oil and gas industry is in fact the most dangerous in the U.S. and Texas is the most dangerous state.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) keeps records of serious injuries and fatalities according to the type of industry. Their figures may not be completely accurate as some accidents are not recorded for privacy reasons. The oil and gas industry is particularly vulnerable to fire and explosions caused by gas leaks. Although only 1% of American workers are involved in the oil and gas industry nationwide, the number of fatalities caused by fire or explosion is about ten times the average number in any other industry with the exception of firefighting.
To be fair, the actual incidence of serious injuries and fatalities in Texas may not be as bad as other states when the percentage of workers involved in the industry are taken into consideration. In 2013, for instance, it appeared that Texas had three times the number of oil and gas fatalities as North Dakota, another state where the industry is important, but on analysis the figures reveal that when the numbers of workers are taken into account, Texas fatal accidents are less than half that for North Dakota.
Accidents on oil and gas rigs are sometimes simply the result of the inherent danger of the proximity to a highly combustible material, but in many cases accidents are preventable. Workers are often injured or killed because of negligence on the part of the company involved in the operation. Methane explosions are particularly common. In one accident in 2010, for instance, supervisors continued to drill for oil after an old coal mine had been pierced, releasing a cloud of methane. The methane exploded, killing seven oil workers.
Workers not the only ones affected by oil and gas accidents
Oil and gas explosions and fires don’t always just affect workers. If they occur on land in the vicinity of buildings used for homes and offices, then others in the community can be seriously affected after a catastrophic accident. Theoretically, an oil or gas well should not be drilled close to anyone’s home, but the distance may not be far enough for all danger to be avoided. In the 2010 Deepwater Horizon explosion and fire in the Gulf of Mexico, 11 workers died, 17 more were injured and there was also well documented catastrophic damage to the marine environment caused by the subsequent oil spill. The incident remains the U.S.’s worst environmental disaster to date.
Some accidents are caused by ignoring safety procedures. The methane explosion example above was in that category. In other cases, workers may not be sufficiently well trained to do the job they are doing or are not fully trained to follow safety procedures. Adequate supervision may be lacking. In the Deepwater Horizon incident, it was determined that Transocean, the company that was drilling for oil for B.P., had ignored concerns that the well’s blowout preventer was not able to be remotely activated properly in the event that a blowout occurred.
Workers’ comp. or personal injury?
Many Texans and workers from other states are employed in oil and gas wells and are at a higher risk of serious injury than most other workers. In most cases, if an accident causes an injury to an employee, then workers’ compensation should cover the cost of medical treatment, rehabilitation, lost wages and compensation for dependent families in the event of a fatality. Texas is almost unique in the U.S. for not having mandatory workers’ compensation requirements. Many employers in Texas do in fact take out workers’ compensation insurance. However, in the event that an oil and gas worker is not covered, a personal injury claim may be the only way of obtaining compensation.
For non workers injured by such an explosion or fire there exists the possibility of obtaining compensation through a personal injury claim. If you have been involved in an oil or gas accident and are not covered by workers’ comp., then you should arrange an appointment with a San Antonio lawyer to discuss your legal options and the possibility of a personal injury claim. You can contact the San Antonio office of the Patino Law Firm at 833-210-4878.