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Offshore Oil Rig Explosions and How They Affect Workers

Working on an offshore oil rig is extremely dangerous. Even if you carefully follow all health and safety procedures, something could go wrong and cause an explosion or other problem that puts you at risk of suffering a serious injury, like brain damage or a severe burn.

Unfortunately, many people do not survive explosions and other accidents that occur during oil and gas extraction. In 2011 alone, 112 oil and gas industry workers died on the job, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

If you were injured or lost a loved one in an explosion on an offshore oil rig, our maritime lawyers can review your legal options in a free legal consultation. We have helped employees and other injury victims recover monetary compensation for medical bills, lost wages and other damages.

Causes of Oil Rig Explosions

Oil rig explosions are the most imminent threats to workers on oil rigs. Some of the most common causes of these explosions are:


Oil is highly flammable so it takes just a small spark for this substance to ignite, starting a fire that endangers workers. Sometimes the spark that starts the fire is from damaged wiring. Fires can also start in the kitchen and spread to other areas, which can be particularly dangerous if the fire comes into contact with oil.

Fires on offshore oil rigs are often caused by:

  • Spilling oil or other hazardous substances on the rig floor or other surfaces
  • Using welding, grinding or cutting tools near flammable substances, since these tools can create sparks
  • Improperly training workers who handle oil and gas about how to prevent fires
  • Not following safety standards, such as smoking around flammable materials or leaving unattended flames


When workers drill for oil and cause an increase in pressure, the pool of oil underground can erupt or blowout. This often occurs because system monitors fail or workers do not act to properly control the pressure in the wells.

Blowouts today are not as common because of modern equipment that is designed to properly control the pressure. However, workers should always watch for signs that a blowout is about to occur, such as:

  • Reduced weight in the drill pipe
  • Change in rate of surface fluid
  • Change of rate of drilling
  • Change in the pressure of the pump

Malfunctioning Equipment

There are numerous examples of malfunctioning equipment that can cause an explosion, such as:

  • Power tools that create sparks that ignite oil or another flammable substance
  • Vent systems that allow a buildup of dangerous fumes or chemicals
  • Well monitors
  • Corroded pipes
  • Damaged wiring

With workers relying on specialized equipment to perform their jobs, serious injuries can result when this equipment fails. Explosions can also occur when scheduled maintenance is not performed.

Injuries from Oil Rig Explosions

Workers may suffer from a variety of injuries in an oil rig explosion such as:

  • Severe first, second or third-degree burns
  • Back injuries
  • Spinal cord injuries
  • Traumatic brain injuries
  • Brain damage
  • Amputation of limbs
  • Severe hearing loss
  • Death

Getting Compensation After an Oil Rig Explosion

If you were injured in an explosion on an oil rig, you may be able to file a claim under the Jones Act to recover compensation.

The Jones Act is a law that applies to employees who do at least 30 percent of their work on seafaring vessels, such as offshore oil rigs. This law provides compensation for medical bills and disability benefits for as long as you are disabled.

Unlike workers’ compensation claims, you must prove your employer’s negligence contributed to your injury. However, you do not need to prove your employer’s negligence was the sole cause of your injury. You just need to show that it played some role in your injury, however small.

If you lost a loved one, we may be able to file a claim under the Death on the High Seas Act. This provides compensation for funeral expenses, lost inheritance, lost financial support and other damages.

Contact a Maritime Lawyer for Assistance

Our dedicated maritime lawyers are committed to helping you or your deceased loved one recover fair compensation for damages by filing a claim under the Jones Act or Death on the High Seas Act.

We can help you with every aspect of your claim, including gathering evidence of the employer’s negligence and the severity of injuries or damages. If your claim is denied or you receive less compensation than you deserve, we can help you appeal.

Contact our Baton Rouge injury lawyers for a free review of your case. We can discuss the specific circumstances surrounding your oil rig injuries and what legal options are available to you. We work on a contingency fee basis and only collect attorney’s fees if you prevail.

Complete a Free Case Evaluation form or call us at (800) 374-8422.