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The dangers of working offshore on an oil rig

There are many positive aspects about working offshore on an oil rig. You like the prospect of seven days off after each seven-day shift you work. The money is good and you enjoy the outdoor atmosphere and camaraderie you share with your crew mates.

But still, sometimes you worry. You've heard the grim statistic that offshore workers have seven times the risk of being killed than all others employed here in America. You worry that your wife and children will be left to fend for themselves if bad luck befalls you on your next shift.

The most deadly commute

You also realize that it doesn't take a catastrophic event like the explosion on the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig to kill or maim you so that you're no longer able to work. In fact, the vast majority of offshore workers who are killed on the job die either on their way out to or back from the rigs.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention conducted a seven-year research study that focused on offshore fatalities from 2003 to 2010. The much-publicized Deepwater drilling rig disaster's 11 deaths occurred during that same period.

But researchers determined that of the 128 workers in the offshore industry who perished in that time-frame, 65, or 51 percent, died in some type of transportation accident. Of that total, 49 — an astounding 75 percent — were killed in helicopter crashes to and from oil rigs out in the Gulf of Mexico.

Non-fatal accident risks

Workers on oil rigs face exposure to deadly gases that accumulate in closed-in areas of the rigs. Supervisors must ensure that proper ventilation exists in all sections, including tanks.

Fire is another constant danger that threatens the safety of all working on an oil rig. Welding repairs should never be undertaken in the vicinity of flammable materials that can explode.

The oil-slick surfaces of drilling rigs pose fall risks to workers, especially those working on the higher platforms. Proper shoes with good tread must be worn and safety equipment must be provided by the drilling company and utilized by the workers on the rigs.

Providing for your family after an accident

If your worst nightmare already occurred and you were injured while working offshore, it's important to understand the rights that you have to seek compensation. Your medical bills and expenses can be covered by workers' compensation, and you might also be eligible for cash benefits and/or a lump sum settlement.

If your company is not providing for you after an on-the-job injury, you may need to pursue all the options available to you under Louisiana laws.

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