We know that our Albuquerque oil field employees face dangers that may be unheard of in other occupations. Those who give their efforts on an oil field realize that they are daily at risk of injury or death due to fire, explosion, chemical exposure, electrocution, or a number of other hazards. For that reason, employers need to do everything in their power to create the safest possible conditions for their workers. In what is statistically one of the top five most dangerous occupations in the nation, there is no room for even the smallest act of negligence. When employers fail in this fundamental duty to protect, they put the lives of each of their employees at risk.
If you were injured in an oil field accident, a lawyer can help you determine what went wrong, and what should be done next. It may be in your best interests, and the interests of your coworkers, to file a claim against the company. A lawyer with experience helping victims of oil field accidents will understand that a negligent company needs to be held accountable for the actions that caused a worker harm. Our oil field workers should never have to fear that their employers are not doing everything they can to protect the health and lives of employees.
What Is Negligence?
Negligence is a failure to take reasonable care to protect someone from harm under the given circumstances. When a party is negligent, they fail to meet a standard of behavior that safeguards others from risk. Negligence could be an action, but it could also be a failure to do something that should be done. Proving negligence can be complicated, so the legal guidance of a lawyer who pays attention to details, looks beyond the superficial to find evidence, and takes the time and effort to trace results to their actual causes is an essential part of a personal injury case.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) sets out guidelines to help companies and organization operate at their safest levels. If safety protocols as defined by OSHA are not followed, the chance of accident is significantly increased. Even minor mistakes and complications can result in tragic consequences on an oil field. Failure to comply with OSHA’s guidelines can constitute negligence in a legal case if an employee is injured as a result. Even actions beyond the scope of OSHA’s regulations can contribute to negligence when they create conditions that are unsafe for workers.
Examples of Oil Field Negligence
When it comes to negligence, determining the responsible party is not always a clear-cut task. Your lawyer will work thoroughly and diligently, analyzing every aspect of the incident to find out exactly what happened and why. It is possible that the negligent party was not even on-site at the time of the accident.
Keeping in mind that these are not the only factors that can be considered negligence, here are a few of the more common situations which can create an unsafe environment for oil field workers and lead to tragic, unnecessary accidents:
- Chemical Exposure. Working around oil can expose workers to toxins, and gases and other chemical elements used during extraction can cause serious harm to the human body. Without proper safety precautions, oil field workers can be exposed to highly damaging poisons at dangerous levels or for unsafe amounts of time.
- Mechanical Malfunction. If something breaks and a worker is unable to escape, they may be hurt or killed in a struck-by, caught-in, or caught-between accident. There are also risks such as electrocution, falling, or loss of limb when machinery malfunctions. It may be a situation of negligence if the oil company did not take adequate measures to conduct routine inspections, failed to look for signs of imminent failure, purchased cheap or shoddy products, or neglected to report or respond to a problem when it occurred.
- Improper Inspection and Maintenance. If equipment is not properly maintained, cared for, and subject to thorough, regularly-scheduled inspections, disastrous consequences such as explosions, falls, crushing, and other causes of injury can result. If a third-party entity was hired but did not properly fix a broken piece of machinery, their negligence may be responsible for an accident.
- Failure to Report. It may be the case that someone noticed a potential hazard but did not report it to the proper authorities. Similarly, a company may have been made aware of a potential issue, yet failed to act in a timely manner to rectify the problem.
- Unsafe Vehicle Operation. If a person driving a vehicle or operating machinery is unfit to fulfil their duty and you are harmed, whether the person was distracted, under the influence, or improperly trained, there may have been negligence at play. Sometimes the negligent driver or operator is a contractor rather than a full-time employee of the oil company, and your lawyer will need to examine the situation to correctly determine responsibility.
- Falling Hazards. An oil company is negligent if it creates conditions which increase the risk of falling, or if it fails to prevent potential falling hazards. Workers may be inadvertently tripped, bumped by equipment or vehicles, or unbalanced by moving machinery and knocked from heights, causing serious injury or death.
- Lack of Necessary Tools. An oil company has an obligation to provide safe, effective tools. Unfortunately, some companies supply workers with substandard equipment in an effort to cut cost. If you are working with cheap tools unfit for the task you must complete, or if you were not given the tools you need at all, your lawyer may be able to help you prove negligence.
- Inadequate Training. It takes a well-trained specialist to understand and deal with the dangers of an oil field, and even the most highly-skilled workers will be subject to conditions that are outside of their control. When employees are not properly trained to anticipate and handle situations of peril, they are a danger to themselves and everyone around them. One of an oil company’s most essential duties is to provide adequate training to its employees.
- Insufficient Emergency Protocol. Oil field workers need to see that there is a well-designed emergency plan all employees knows and can follow. If something goes wrong, everyone should be able to get out as quickly and safely as possible. Employers should have in place a clear exit route and evacuation procedures, give plenty of opportunity for training and practice, and designate quick exit paths to safety. Workers should also be provided with necessities such as fire-resistant clothing and fire prevention training.
We Want to Help Protect Our Oil Field Workers
Most oil companies are powerful and extremely wealthy. To protect themselves from unwanted expenses, companies often make use of the best legal teams they can find, employing lawyers who can help them evade the responsibility of compensating workers who have been injured due to the company’s own negligence. When you are the victim of an accident you did not cause, you should never be forced to bear the financial burden accompanying your injuries.
We at Buckingham & Vega Law Firm have a long history of fighting for the rights of people who work on oil fields. We are on the side of Albuquerque’s oil field workers, and we work hard to make sure that the liable party is held responsible in every situation. We invite you to get in touch with us today to schedule a conversation about how we can help you.