Those who work on boats while they’re out at sea have some of the most dangerous jobs in the world. This danger also extends to those who work in offshore environments, such as oilrigs and natural gas wells. Workers who earn their livelihoods in these environments are exposed to a variety of different risks, whether they come from faulty equipment and machinery being used at the off-shore location, inadequate training procedures offered by their employers, or even accidents that occur with seagoing vessels docked at the offshore site. Further, these workers may be exposed to the dangers of dealing with hazardous or toxic chemicals on a day-to-day basis.
Virtually any kind of workplace-related accident that you can think of can happen at an offshore site and then some. Most often when considering offshore accidents, people tend to think of some of the high-profile cases that have made news over the years. Most recently, a catastrophic accident at the Deepwater Horizon oil rig, which was located in the Gulf of Mexico, made headlines across the world in 2010. When a blowout of the well occurred, the resulting explosion led to the deaths of 11 workers and the injury of 16 others.
While this high-profile case perfectly exemplifies the injury risks associated with working offshore, it does not nearly encompass all of the potential risks. As a matter of fact, there are a wide variety of things that can and will occur at these locations that will lead to injury or even worse. The harsh environments associated with offshore work often lead to a high number of slip and fall accidents. In addition, these hard conditions can cause all manner of falling objects, can cause equipment to malfunction, and can even knock workers into the water. In summary, the accident risk at offshore worksites runs the gamut from the simple to the severe.
With the variety of potential safety hazards and their associated accidents, any manner of injury can be suffered at an offshore worksite. It’s important to note that even a minor injury at an offshore site can quickly become something more complex and severe. This is due to the remote nature of the work environment, which does not have easy access to first responders.
If you are injured in an offshore accident, there are multiple avenues through which you can seek compensation and damages for your injuries. If you are working at the offshore site itself, and the injury is suffered on this offshore site, then you are covered by the Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act. If you are working on a boat that is docked with an offshore site, and your injury is suffered on that boat, then you are covered by the Jones Act. These two separate laws share something in common though. They both hold that any worker’s employer is duty bound to provide that worker with a safe environment in which to do their job.
There is an important thing to keep in mind when discussing injuries suffered by those working on stationary offshore sites. Depending upon where the offshore site is located, a state’s worker’s compensations laws may trump the Longshore and Harbor Worker’s Compensation Act. Further, if a worker at such an offshore site suffers injury while on a boat that is docked at the offshore site, then the provisions of the Jones Act may apply. For this reason, it’s always advisable to receive guidance from a maritime lawyer when dealing with the aftermath of an offshore accident.