As maritime and Jones Act lawyers practicing for several years, we’ve handled dozens and dozens of serious injury cases under the Jones Act which have occurred due to dangerous conditions on an oil rig drilling floor offshore. Below are some of the most common situations which cause serious injury to our maritime clients.
One of the most simple, yet common, ways that individuals are injured on drilling rig floors is due to slippery oil-based drilling mud accumulating on the rig floor. Even non-oil-based drilling mud can become slippery when it is on a hard metal rig floor. Past clients have injured their knees, backs and other parts of their bodies when they have slipped on drilling mud that was negligently allowed to accumulate on a drilling rig floor. It has been our experience that safety practices should be in place on the rig floor to continuously clean the rig floor and make sure that no slippery substances are allowed to accumulate on the rig floor. We have successfully handled many claims by proving that the company failed to provide a slip-free rig floor to our clients. While this may seem nearly impossible during the oil drilling process offshore, safety precautions such as coco mats, non-skid paint, and designated walkways can all help eliminate slip hazards on an oil rig drilling floor.
Another major cause of injuries on oil rig drilling floors is due to the handling of the drilling slips. Our office has handled many cases involving serious lower back injuries caused when too few individuals were required to pull the drilling slips. Injuries with drilling slips also occur when the driller improperly operates the drill pipe or the rig is tilted or “listed” which causes the slips to hang up or get caught while the employees are pulling these slips. These types of conditions can easily cause serious back injuries.
A final way that maritime employees are often injured working on an offshore oil rig relates to work being performed in the derrick. The derrick hand is typically required to pull pipe in or out of the fingers on the drilling rig. If these fingers are bent or otherwise improperly maintained, this can cause the derrick hand to struggle with the pipes. Also, the speed at which the pipe is being racked in or out of the fingers can often cause stress on the derrick hand.
The above situations are mere examples of how serious injuries can occur on a drilling rig floor. The driller and assistant driller are responsible to supervise the drilling floor. Many modern-day drilling rigs have cameras in use on the drilling floor which can greatly assist in trying to prove the cause of an accident. Also, most modern drilling companies are required to keep detailed safety records and reports.