Cost Cutting in Oil Fields Puts Rig Workers in Tough Spot

by | Mar 31, 2015 | Product Liability

Our product liability attorneys report on cost cutting by oil refineries putting rig workers at risk.

The Oklahoma oil fields have never been an easy place to work. But the decline in oil prices has made conditions even more difficult.

With oil prices half of what they were seven months ago, energy companies have been decommissioning rigs and laying off workers. Facing pressure to trim costs, some oil companies may be more inclined to cut corners on safe working conditions on oil rigs. At the same time, oil field workers may be less likely to complain about unsafe conditions out of fear that they’ll be next to lose their job.

Oklahoma produces a substantial amount of oil with two of the 100 largest oil fields found in the state. Each day, thousands of Oklahoma oil field workers meet the demands of difficult jobs. Since OPEC announced plans in November to maintain current production levels, prices have tumbled and Oklahoma’s active rotary rigs count has dropped by 31 percent. At the end of February, there were 168 active rigs exploring for oil and gas in the state.

Nationwide, 1,100 workers in the oil and gas industry lost their jobs in February because of the lower crude oil prices. More layoffs are likely and those workers still employed are having to work harder.

Many rig workers are injured in accidents through no fault of their own. Many accidents occur because oil companies focus on saving money rather than saving lives.

In a five year period from 2007 to 2011, Oklahoma had 64 workers fatally injured on-the-job in the oil and gas industry. It’s the second highest total of any state, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Oil field machinery and equipment can fail because of faulty design, negligent maintenance, or dangerous attempts to retrofit a piece of equipment. Oil field accidents may cause a family to lose its primary income producer.

A recent report by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration found that injured workers and their families find themselves caught in a Catch-22 of being unable to save for the future or invest in education to improve job skills.

A serious injury may leave you unable to meet the physical demands of your old oilfield job or require retooling your skills. A worker injured on the job should be eligible for workers’ compensation benefits, but Oklahoma has slashed those benefits available to injured workers in the last decade.

You’ll need all the financial resources available and you may be entitled to seek compensation through a product liability claim related to a defective piece of machinery. It requires an investigation by an independent party to determine whether a piece of machinery caused an accident An Oklahoma product liability attorney can work with mechanical experts to determine the cause of an accident. We may be able to help you obtain full compensation for your injuries after a serious accident caused by a piece of defective machinery or lack of maintenance.