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Legal Blog

Common Causes of Oil Rig Explosions

While the jobs are financially beneficial for our nation’s hard workers, working on an offshore oil rig is one of the most dangerous occupations in the United States and beyond. Many dangers lurk while working offshore, but the most dangerous danger is oil rig explosions which can seriously injure and often kill maritime workers. There can be a variety of reasons an oil rig will combust, but the most common causes of oil rig explosions include things like fires, pipeline blowouts, machinery malfunctions or defective equipment, unsafe drilling procedures, and inadequate maintenance. This means a significant number of offshore oil rig explosions could be prevented if the companies involved spent the time and money needed to keep their equipment safe and to train their workforce adequately.

What Causes an Offshore Oil Rig Explosion?

Oil Rig Fires

All it takes is one small spark coming into contact with the oil or gas on an oil rig and a catastrophic explosion can take place. Fires can be caused by human error or even a natural occurrence like a lightning strike. The resulting fire can last for hours if not days or longer because of the endless stream of oil that keeps it burning. Fire poses the greatest risk to offshore workers on oil rigs as these platforms are often storage facilities for the highly flammable natural resources for which they drill until it is sent back onshore. And, the workers have nowhere to go to escape the resulting blaze because the rigs are so far out at sea, help is too far away.

Oil Rig Blowouts

A blowout is an uncontrolled release of oil or natural gas from a well. These events used to occur more frequently and were called gushers; but, the advent of pressure systems designed to prevent blowouts has significantly reduced the risk. Today, oil rig blowouts only happen when these systems fail. When an oil rig is actively engaged in drilling, the systems monitoring the well pressure must be carefully observed to look for upticks and anomalies in order to catch a potential blowout before it becomes catastrophic and deadly.

Defective Oil Rig Machinery and Equipment

As with the pressure system equipment mentioned above with regard to blowouts, oil rigs are comprised of a variety of heavy machinery and sophisticated equipment. Anything from a faulty power tool to a ventilation failure can set in motion a chain of events that will have extremely dangerous consequences for maritime workers. Equipment failure can cause sparks that ignite the fuel and/or prevent an oil rig from working as safely as intended.

Inadequate Oil Rig Maintenance

Oil rigs use a variety of equipment to drill and keep the rig in tip-top shape. In order to keep all of these components functional, it is imperative that owners and operators properly maintain and service every piece of their oil rigs. When machinery fails, oil and gas workers suffer serious injuries due to explosions, toxic exposure, flying shrapnel, falling objects, crane collapse, and more.

Unsafe Procedures and Insufficient Training

Explosions are often caused because workers are told to rush and ignore safety rules so that the companies involved can make a faster and cheaper profit. When offshore oil rig jobs are rushed, necessary hazard analyses are not conducted, process safety management is deficient, contractors and other workers are inadequately trained, safety procedures are not followed, and other negligent behaviors increase, putting the entire crew at risk.

Bad Weather

Extreme weather conditions are typical in areas where oil rigs are located, such as off the shores of Louisiana, Texas, California, Alaska, and more. Severe weather can lead to an explosion. Lightning and storm damage are just some of the ways Mother Nature can damage offshore oil rig equipment. Extreme weather can also lead to other issues that cause fires or explosions. It is important for rig operators to evacuate workers in extreme cases, such as a major storm or hurricane. However, strong winds and lightning also pose a risk to workers. Lightning strikes can very easily trigger an explosion under the right conditions.

Offshore Oil Rig Injury Lawyers

When an oil rig accident injures you while you’re on the job, you are entitled to financial compensation for your injuries and lost wages, among other potential damages. Sometimes, however, injuries lead to permanent disability, keeping workers unable to work and support their loved ones.

The experienced, award-winning trial lawyers of The Krist Law Firm have successfully handled offshore injury cases for over 50 years. Our legal team has handled high-profile disaster cases, including the Space Shuttle Challenger disaster and other significant and historic American legal litigation. Put our experience and resources to work for you by contacting us today. We keep our caseload small so we can focus intensely on each client and meet their needs in real-time. We would be honored to help you and your family with an offshore oil rig explosion or other maritime injury or death claim. Call us today at 281-326-9197.