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A while back, my colleague John Cooper wrote about the possibility of off-shore drilling in Virginia (VA) and the risk of serious injury this type of work will present to many Virginians. Well, the possibility of domestic drilling inched closer to becoming a reality with the recent announcement by President Obama that he will lift the federal ban on off-shore drilling and exploration, according to ABC News.

Here’s a video of VA Gov. Bob McDonnell discussing President Obama’s decision to lift the ban on domestic oil exploration and drilling…

Unfortunately, as the notion of off-shore drilling comes to fruition, so does the risk of industrial accidents and serious injuries. Just think, employees working on an offshore rig will be drilling for gas or oil using heavy equipment in the midst of high seas and will probably be required to work long hours. Serious accidents and injuries are likely to occur.

Some of the most common industrial accidents on oil rigs include:

  • Falls
  • Slips
  • Fires
  • Equipment defects

Some of the most common injuries include:

  • Strained lower back muscles
  • Torn knee ligaments such as the ACL/MCL
  • Lacerations
  • Severe burns

But the worst case scenario would be a major explosion on an oil rig. These types of industrial accidents are rare (thankfully) but when they do occur, the damage and loss of life can be extensive. Back in 2007, strong winds forced the Usumacinta oil rig to collide with a Kab-101 platform and rupture the platform’s production tree. Twenty-two employees were killed and leaking hydrocarbons caused major fire damage.

I hope nothing like this happens in Virginia, but the possibility will always be there. What’s frustrating is that the cause of these accidents can often be traced back to the negligence of the oil company. Regardless, I know these companies will have a team of lawyers thinking of various injury scenarios and strategizing on how to avoid or defeat any employee injury/wrongful death lawsuits.

In VA, we currently have workers compensation laws which provide financial coverage for a workplace injury. However, the tradeoff is that a worker cannot file a lawsuit against their employer. Nevertheless, if an employee is injured by a contractor or third party’s equipment, negligence, etc. then a lawsuit could potentially be pursued.

About the Editors: Shapiro, Cooper, Lewis & Appleton personal injury law firm (VA-NC law offices ) edits the injury law blogs Virginia Beach Injuryboard, Norfolk Injuryboard, and Northeast North Carolina Injuryboard as a pro bono service to consumers.


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