Oil Field Accidents in Oklahoma


Oklahoma is oil country, as evidenced by the thousands of oil pump jacks that dot the state’s landscape. Drilling for oil is not an easy task. It requires a lot of heavy equipment, and the people who work in the industry need specialized skills and knowledge. As with any job that uses heavy equipment, the potential for danger and accidents is increased for those who work in the Oklahoma oil fields.

Oil field accidents in Oklahoma are occurring with more and more frequency, and they can range from minor to severe. Hazards include work rig collapses, falls from rigs and equipment, equipment failures or defective products, frac tank problems, well blowouts, and explosions and fires. While occasionally these can result in minor injuries, they more commonly lead to burns, electrocution, broken backs or necks, head injuries, loss of limbs, exposure to toxic chemicals or gases, slip and fall injuries, and even fatalities.

What is a typical Oklahoma oil field accident?

When working on an oil and gas field site in Oklahoma, there is a range of oil field accident possibilities, including injuries happen from:

  • Explosions
  • Fires
  • Blowouts
  • Crushed limbs
  • Slip and falls

Sadly, many oil field injuries are serious enough to be permanent, or even fatal. Oil rig deaths in Oklahoma have affected the community, and there has been an increase in highway accidents involving oil and gas workers as well. The attorneys at McIntyre Law are experienced at handling Oklahoma oil field accident claims and can help you recover compensation for a range of injuries.

 

Talk to our oil field accident lawyers at McIntyre Law so we can help you receive the compensation you deserve. Contact us today.

 

Fatigued Driving: A major safety risk for Oklahoma oil workers

An article in the New York Times detailed the risk to oil workers just from being behind the wheel. The main issue? Fatigue. The article cites that over the past decade, more than 300 oil and gas workers have been killed in highway crashes, and these fatalities are being attributed to oil field exemptions from highway safety rules so that truckers can work longer hours than drivers in other industries.

The exemptions help workers to earn more money, but at what cost? Oil truck drivers say that they will routinely work shifts that are more than 20 hours. The U.S. Department of Transportation Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration defined a “waiting time exemption” (among others) that allows employees to work hours over the maximum if their time is being spent waiting for materials to be delivered and then unloaded at shipping and receiving facilities. Hours spent waiting are counted as “off-duty” time, even when drivers are remaining awake for the whole time.

Now, as the oil industry continues to flourish, these fatigue-related crashes are a growing concern. Nearly one-third of oil field worker deaths in a recent five-year period were highway crashes. The industry continues to put more trucks on the road, and the drivers are exempt from other truckers’ regulations. The FMCSA stands behind the exemptions, saying that they’ve been in place for 50 years, and they are safe and clear enough. The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), however, continues to disagree and has studied operator fatigue, says that there are too many accidents where lack of sleep and fatigue were either the cause or a contributing factor. Yet, these jobs are sought-after because they pay well and sometimes require minimal training.

Who’s at fault for oil field accidents?

The Oklahoma workers compensation courts are not always the last and best place to file claims for gas or oil field injuries in Oklahoma. McIntyre Law’s attorneys know this; they don’t end their investigation there. Often, third parties or employers engage in gross negligence that leads to hazardous working conditions that cause these Oklahoma oil field accidents.

For example, we represented a family of a worker who was killed because a hose clamp was missing, which caused a pipe to spin and strike the worker in the head. Sometimes, too, we’ve had cases where a worker was injured or killed because a coworker was under the influence of drugs or alcohol while operating heavy equipment. Sadly, these Oklahoma oil field injuries were preventable and the deaths didn’t need to happen.

If you’ve lost a loved one in an oil field accident in Oklahoma, call us. We’ll pursue every available means to have you receive compensation.

How to spot and report negligence caused by oil field companies

Many of the injuries that happen in Oklahoma oil fields and in the energy industry are preventable and often are caused by the employer’s negligence. Negligence can take many forms when it comes to oil field accidents: It can be that a company doesn’t follow regulations with regard to how many hours an employee can work at a time, failure to ensure that equipment is properly maintained, and improper or inadequate employee training, along with a host of other things.

If you see something taking place on your Oklahoma oil field work site that you believe to be dangerous, consider whether you feel comfortable approaching a supervisor to report it. Certainly, for most companies, workers’ safety is the utmost priority – aside from being a caring employer, most company executives are keenly aware that no one wants the bad press that a workplace accident can bring. If it’s something that you can correct yourself, by all means, do so.

Oklahoma’s Whistleblower Protection

Often, the people who are most aware of a company’s shortcomings on safety precautions in the field are the workers, themselves. If you’re an oil field worker and you see practices taking place that are dangerous to you or your coworkers, what do you do? A whistleblower is someone who exposes misconduct, dishonest or illegal activity that occurs within an organization. Although the term “whistleblower” might evoke some negative associations (think Enron and Edward Snowden), it can save lives, and there are protections in place for employees who need to bring forth allegations of unsafe practices of employers.

If your supervisor is causing the dangerous situation, it might not be practical to approach that person with your comments. There are other avenues you can take, however. The Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) has a Whistleblower Protection Program that is designed to protect from discrimination in the event that a worker needs to expose workplace health or safety hazards. This means that an employer is not allowed to fire; lay off; demote; deny overtime, promotion or benefits; discipline; intimidate; threaten; or reduce pay or hours as a result of the employee’s exercising his rights under OSHA.

 

If you’ve been injured or have suffered a loss of a loved one from an oil field accident in Oklahoma, contact the attorneys at McIntyre law for a free legal consultation.

 

How to Stay Safe on an Oil Field in Oklahoma

Accidents happen, even to employees of companies that are responsible and follow all of the regulations. But, there are ways that workers can help to keep their working environments safe:

  • Wear a self-contained respirator when you’re around high chemical levels.
  • Be sure that your workplace has been properly and regularly inspected (which includes all machinery and equipment) to ensure that everything is in working order and has been sufficiently maintained.
  • Follow all workplace procedures and protocols. Don’t be afraid to be a whistleblower: If you suspect that one of your coworkers or supervisors isn’t doing something correctly and within regulations, tell a higher-up. The life you save could be your own.
  • Report incidents to your supervisor immediately.
  • Always wear the required protective gear (eye masks, helmets, boots, gloves, etc.).
  • Correctly train yourself and make sure other colleagues are adequately trained as well.
  • If you don’t think that you’ve been properly trained to operate a piece of equipment, don’t. Let your supervisor know that you need more instruction before you begin.

Three out of five on-site oil rig deaths in Oklahoma among oil and gas extraction industry workers are because of struck by/caught in/caught between hazards that are the result of moving vehicles or equipment, falling equipment or high-pressure lines.

Taking the above precautions won’t prevent all workplace accidents, of course. But, if you’re aware of the most common risks, you can be prepared. Certainly, too, there are likely to be safety precautions that are specific to your particular company or task. You should know them and feel comfortable following them.

Additional resources that may help prevent Oklahoma oil field accidents

Following are some available resources that can help you learn about Oklahoma oil field accidents, determine whether you’ve sustained an actionable oil field injury in Oklahoma and also to help prevent them:

If something in your workplace doesn’t seem quite right, or if you think that there’s a hazard present and you’re not comfortable approaching your immediate supervisor (or if your supervisor is part of the problem), you can contact the Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) at (800) 321-OSHA (6742) or at www.osha.gov.

The Oil Industry in Oklahoma

The oil and gas industry is a major part of Oklahoma’s economy, and for good reason. There are an abundance of oil field careers and lots of oil field work to be done. Approximately one-quarter of all jobs in Oklahoma are energy-related in some way. According to one economist at the University of Central Oklahoma’s College of Business Administration, oil and natural gas helped the state survive the nation’s recent recession. While that’s great news for the economy, not everything’s coming up roses in the oil fields.

Along with the push for the discovery of more natural resources and the capture of renewable resources like wind and solar energy, there are problems that arise. For example, environmental concerns, royalty disputes, property and pollution issues have come to the forefront of lots of people’s attention in recent years.

Royalties, ownership and contract class actions

The attorneys at McIntyre Law don’t regularly engage in class action royalty litigation. Therefore, we’ve established strategic partnerships with trusted firms that practice this highly specialized area of law. If you or a family member is aware of an oil or gas company that you believe has engaged in improper accounting of your royalties, or is not upholding its contractual obligation to royalty owners or working interest’s owners, please contact us. We will connect you with professionals who can help you reach satisfaction.

In what areas of Oklahoma do McIntyre Law’s oil field accident attorneys practice?

Our lawyers routinely handle Oklahoma oil field accident cases throughout the state. We have litigated cases from towns across Oklahoma, including:

  • Oklahoma City, OK
  • Tulsa, OK
  • Lawton, OK
  • Edmond, OK
  • Norman, OK
  • Ardmore, OK
  • Idabel, OK
  • Shawnee, OK
  • Stillwater, OK
  • Midwest City, OK
  • Moore, OK

and in counties including Oklahoma County, Tulsa County, Payne County, Cleveland and McCurtain County. No matter where you are in the state, if you have been involved in an oil field accident in Oklahoma, our lawyers stand ready to help you.

As well, if you’ve been injured on the job, the attorneys at McIntyre Law can help. While some Oklahoma oil injury lawyers will simply file a worker’s compensation claim, McIntyre’s lawyers will do more than that; we investigate your claim to the fullest extent in order to determine whether there’s any third-party liability or gross negligence on the part of your employer. If either of those scenarios is the case, we will help you and your loved ones to receive the compensation you deserve.

 

Contact us today to talk about your potential oil field injury lawsuit.

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