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Legal Blog

Top Causes of Fatal Offshore Drilling Accidents

Fatal offshore drilling accidents in Houston can occur during what seems like a normal day on the job. The dangers of this career can be deadly, often because companies fail to take the necessary precautions to safeguard their employees’ well-being.

If you’ve lost a loved one in a fatal offshore accident, then contact The Krist Law Firm, P.C. Our years of experience helping clients mean that we can help you seek the compensation you deserve. Our Houston offshore accident lawyers will support you with unwavering dedication because we put our clients first.

Call us at (281) 283-8500 to learn how we can help.

Why Fatal Offshore Drilling Accidents Occur

Offshore oil and gas operations include all activities related to the extraction of oil and natural gas from beneath the seafloor. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the fatality rate in the oil and gas extraction industry was more than seven times higher than for all workers in the U.S. from 2003 to 2010 (27.1 versus 3.8 fatalities per 100,000 workers). In an effort to identify risk factors for individuals who work in this industry, the CDC examined data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries (CFOI) for this period. That analysis revealed 128 deaths occurred in the industry over this span of time, meaning that, on average, there were 16 fatalities per year.

Most fatal accidents in the offshore drilling industry during this time were transportation-related (65, which is 51 percent). Other leading causes of fatal oil and gas extraction accidents included contact with objects (21, which is 16 percent), fires and explosions (17, which is 13 percent), and exposure to harmful substances (16, which is 13 percent). Furthermore, all but one fatal offshore drilling accident took place in the Gulf of Mexico.

Perhaps the most well-known fatal accident during these years is Deepwater Horizon, which led to 11 deaths. The accident is named after the drilling rig that oil and gas company BP leased to drill Macondo Prospect, an oil and gas prospect off the coast of Louisiana in the Gulf of Mexico. The oil rig accident occurred when a geyser of seawater erupted onto the rig followed by an eruption of drilling mud, methane gas, and seawater. The methane gas ignited into what was ultimately a fireball visible from 40 miles. The region also suffered a major oil spill because of the accident.

Recommended Precautions in Offshore Drilling Jobs

While the media extensively report fire and explosion events like Deepwater Horizon, transportation accidents are the most prevalent cause of fatal offshore drilling accidents. They are frequently due to mechanical failures and inclement weather that lead to helicopter crashes. Moreover, despite the fact that two-thirds (66 percent) of landings occurred in water from 2003 to 2010, aircraft floatation devices on the helicopters either failed to deploy or malfunctioned in 20 percent of nonfatal accidents, leading to the drowning of those onboard.

The CDC recommends the offshore drilling industry abide by the most stringent safety guidelines such as those issued by the International Association of Oil and Gas Producers (OGP). These guidelines exceed the Federal Aviation Authority’s safety regulations. For example, OGP recommends helicopter underwater escape training for oil and gas industry employees, automatically inflating floatation gear fitted to helicopters, and personal beacons affixed to pilots, passengers, and life rafts so that they can be located in the water in the event of a crash landing.

How a Houston Offshore Accident Lawyer with The Krist Law Firm, P.C. Can Help

The Krist Law Firm, P.C. understands that some jobs may be more dangerous than others, but this is why employers should make every effort to ensure the workplace is as safe as possible. This includes compliance with strict safety guidelines to protect employees on the job. If either you or a loved one has been hurt because an offshore drilling employer failed to safeguard you, then let us help.

Contact one of our experienced offshore accident lawyers near Houston today at (281) 283-8500 to schedule a free consultation.