Texas oil workers face on-the-job hazards every day

Oil and gas field employees face potentially fatal injury on a daily basis because of the nature of the industry.

Many Texans earn their livelihoods from working in the oil and gas industry, which is a huge part of our economy and culture. While employment in the oil fields can support a worker and his or her family financially, the tradeoff is that it is relatively dangerous work. After all, oil and gas extraction workers have had a work-related fatality rate seven times the rate of all other national industries combined, according to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.

Work hazards in the oil and gas fields

Of course, heavy industrial work with combustible materials by definition can easily become hazardous if safety practices are not followed to the letter. OSHA reports that in the oil and gas extraction industry injuries, illnesses and fatalities can result from:

  • Motor vehicle accidents
  • Fires
  • Explosions
  • Falls
  • Exposure to chemicals like hydrogen sulfide, benzene, silica and others
  • Crushing and striking accidents
  • Confined spaces
  • Ergonomic issues from reaching, lifting, pulling, twisting and other movements
  • High pressure lines
  • Electrical hazards
  • Machinery hazards
  • Extreme noise levels
  • Exhaust fumes
  • Exposure to naturally occurring radioactive material, known as NORM
  • Extreme temperatures
  • Work fatigue

Conduct an independent investigation

It is important for any Texan (or anyone who comes to Texas to work) injured or sickened in the course of employment in the oil and gas industry to seek legal advice from an experienced personal injury lawyer as soon as possible. Legal counsel will begin an investigation of the incident to determine potentially responsible parties and gather important evidence.

Launching an independent investigation can be significant to recovery of damages because the causes of injuries and deaths in the oil fields may not always be readily apparent.

For example, it took several years for government health authorities to determine that several unexplained deaths of oil field workers had not been because of natural causes. It was ultimately found that these tank-gauging employees, who were going to measure tank levels and take samples, died after having opened storage tank hatches and having been exposed to invisible, pressurized plumes of gaseous, dangerous chemicals that overcame the workers and deprived them of oxygen, according to The Wall Street Journal.

Potentially responsible parties

A Texas employer is normally not required to carry workers' compensation insurance, but an employer may opt in to the state workers' compensation system, in which case it becomes the exclusive legal remedy for work-related harm. If workers' compensation is available, a claim would pay benefits regardless of fault for a work-related injury and preclude a lawsuit against the employer, except for grossly negligent employer behavior that caused employee death.

If a Texas employer has opted out of workers' compensation, an injured worker can sue the employer for negligence or recklessness that resulted in injury. In addition, an attorney can determine whether there might be other potentially responsible third parties like negligent contractors, equipment manufacturers, property owners, materials suppliers and more.

The attorneys at Marynell Maloney Law Firm, PLLC, in San Antonio, represent injured oil field workers and the survivors of oil workers who have died from such injuries in the San Antonio area and throughout the state of Texas.