In the past decade or so, West Virginia has experienced a boom in its oil and natural gas industry. The Marcellus Shale and other vast reserves have made the Mountain State a major player in America’s energy renaissance. This boom has prompted major investments from large energy companies, bringing thousands of new jobs to our state.
There is a major downside to this boom, however. With these new oil and gas rig drilling jobs, we have seen a significant increase in workplace injuries and fatalities. Powerful and dangerous equipment is used to drill for oil and natural gas, and when steps are not taken to secure the safety of those working on this equipment, it can result in disastrous consequences.
What Causes Gas Rig Drilling Accidents?
Gas rig drilling accidents are becoming increasingly common in the natural gas and oil fields in West Virginia. Some of the accidents that most frequently occur include:
- Fires and Explosions (e.g., gas well explosions, pipeline explosions, etc.)
- Electrical Injuries
- Slips and Falls
- Being Struck by Loose Objects or Debris
- Being Struck Against a Hard Surface
- Being Trapped in a Tight Space
- Transportation Accidents
- Rig Collapses
- Exposure to Toxic Substances
There are many reasons gas rig drilling accidents occur, here are some of the most common:
- Inexperienced or Poorly-Trained Workers: During boom times like what we are currently experiencing in West Virginia, energy companies need to hire far more employees. Oftentimes, those they hire lack industry experience, and companies do not take the necessary time to train their employees properly.
- Failure to Implement/Follow Proper Workplace Safety Procedures: Employers in the energy industry are required to take reasonable steps to provide a safe and healthy work environment. In addition, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has various safety regulations in place that companies must follow. When energy companies fail in their duty to properly protect their workers, these workers become exposed to numerous potential hazards.
- Worker Negligence: Many drilling accidents are caused by coworkers and third-party subcontractors working alongside energy company employees who make critical mistakes on the job. This problem is made worse when workers are asked to put in long hours that make them tired and fatigued. Some workers deal with this stress by turning to alcohol and drugs, which also negatively impacts their job performance.
- Poorly Maintained Equipment: One of the ways energy companies are supposed to keep their workers safe is by using equipment that is properly maintained. Unfortunately, much of the equipment used is old, outdated, worn out, and difficult to work with.
- Defective Equipment: Related to the last point, some of the machinery and equipment that is used in the oil and gas industry is defective. When certain pieces of equipment have product defects, they can malfunction at the wrong time, causing workers to become injured.
What can be Done about Gas Rig Drilling Accidents?
With oil and gas worker accidents, injuries, and fatalities on the rise, energy companies must do far more (than they are currently doing) to protect their employees. Companies must help foster a culture of safety by implementing better engineering controls, worker training, and workplace practices along with the use of the most up-to-date protective equipment to provide workers with a safer environment in which to do their jobs.
Injured in a Drilling Accident in West Virginia? Speak with an Experienced Personal Injury Lawyer
If you or someone close to you has been injured or killed in a drilling accident, you have a right to compensation. This may be through your employer’s workers’ compensation policy, a personal injury lawsuit, a product liability claim, or another legal avenue. Recovering full and fair compensation can be difficult, however, because energy companies use various tactics to avoid paying compensation to their injured employees. For this reason, it is important to have strong legal counsel in your corner advocating forcefully for your legal rights and interests.
At Bailey, Javins, and Carter L.C., we have over four decades of experience standing up for the working people of West Virginia. We have successfully handled countless claims against well-funded adversaries, such as the mining and energy companies that have powerful lobbies in our state. We work closely with our clients to thoroughly investigate their claim and explore every potential legal avenue toward recovering the just compensation they need and deserve.
To schedule a free consultation with one of our skilled attorneys, call our office today at (800) 497-0234 or (800) 296-6979, or send us a message through our web contact form.