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What Is The Death Rate Of Oil Rig Workers?

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, between 2003 and 2016, oil and gas workers died on the rig an average of 1,485 times each year. The oil and gas fatality rate are six times more dangerous than all other job categories in the United States combined. Contractors, short-service personnel, and small firms that hire them to have an even higher fatality rate than the general oil and gas industry.

During 2003–2013, the number of work-related deaths in the oil and gas extraction sector increased by 27.6%, with 1,189 fatalities; nevertheless, the yearly occupational fatality rate decreased 36.3% (p<0.05) during this 11-year period. Transportation incidents (479 [40.3%]) and contact with objects/equipment (308 [25.9%]) were the most common causes of worker deaths, accounting for two-thirds of all fatalities (649). More than half of individuals who died were employed by firms that service wells (615 [51.7%]).

If you or a loved one has been hurt or killed while working in the oil and gas industry, Texas Oilfield Injury Lawyers will fight tirelessly to ensure that justice is done. Workers’ compensation benefits should at least be available for workers who are injured on the rig. Contact us for a free case evaluation immediately.

Oil And Gas Rig Fatality Statistics

From 2003 to 2013, 1,189 oil and gas extraction industry workers died on the job, resulting in an annual average occupational mortality rate of 25.0 deaths per 100,000 workers. The highest fatality rate was in 2006 (32.4 deaths per 100,000 workers), with 125 fatalities. Almost all of the decedents were male during this period, and the greatest numbers of deaths occurred among people aged 25–34 years (331 [27.8%]). The majority of them were non-Hispanic whites (844). Transportation incidents (479 [40.3%]) and contact with objects or equipment (308 [25.9%]) were responsible for the remaining one-third of deaths (716 [59.0%]). On land, rather than air or water, 86.2 percent of transportation events occurred. The majority of the most typical events were caused by fires or explosions (170 [14.3%]), exposure to hazardous substances and conditions (105 [8.8%]), and falls, slips, and trips (97 [8.2%]). The highest number of fatalities occurred among workers employed by well servicing firms (615), followed by drilling contractors (378), and operators (196); however, the greatest fatality rate was among employees working for drilling firms (44.6 per 100,000 workers), followed by well-servicing companies (27.9) and operators (11.6).

Despite the fact that the oil and gas extraction sector’s number of occupational fatalities increased 27.6% during the 11-year span, it did not surpass the number of employees, resulting in a substantial decrease in the mortality rate of 36.3 percent. Over the years, the rate of fatal injuries decreased by 4% each year on average. Oil and gas companies had the greatest yearly fall in fatality rates, 8% (p<0.01), followed by well-servicing firms (4% per year, p<0.05). There were significant decreases in the frequency of contact with things/equipment (9% per year, p<0.001), as well as transportation events (3% per year, p<0.05).

The Most Notable Oil And Gas Rig Accidents In The World


The following are some of the most deadly gas and oil rig disasters in the 21st century.

  • On March 27, 1980, the Alexander L. Kielland occurred. The rig was operating in the Ekofisk oil field in the Norwegian North Sea that night. After the semi-submersible drilling rig platform capsized, 123 rig employees perished. The rig, intended to house the offshore crew, was winched away from the production platform after being battered by waves up to 12 meters high and winds of 40 knots.
  • The Piper Alpha is regarded as the world’s worst oil rig catastrophe. The tragedy occurred in Britain’s North Sea in July 1988 and was caused by a gas pipe that was leaking. As a result of regular maintenance, the pressure of the safety valve was relieved that day. The maintenance was not yet completed when the crew’s shift came to an end. The shift coming in was unaware of the maintenance, however. The incoming shift switched on one of the burning pumps, causing the gas to catch fire. The fire triggered a sequence of explosions on the platform. The fire took three weeks to extinguish. As a consequence, the platform was completely destroyed and 167 rig workers perished.
  • The Mumbai (Bombay) High North Platform disaster took place on July 27, 2005. As a result of heavy tides and rough seas, a support vessel smacked into the platform. The collision triggered a gas leak that soon erupted in flames. Within two hours, the platform was entirely destroyed as a result of the fire and explosions. It killed 22 employees and injured numerous others. There was no safety and protection of the offshore operations regulatory agency at the time, and the crew had insufficient fire protection.
  • On April 20, 2010, the Deepwater Horizon catastrophe took place. The Deepwater Horizon was 40 miles from the Louisiana coast when it caught fire and exploded. An explosion occurred, injuring many people and causing a deadly blaze on the semi-submersible mobile offshore drilling unit operated by Transocean. BP was using the facility to drill oil. The blast killed 11 persons and wounded 17 others. The incident resulted in one of the world’s largest marine oil spills, as well as one of the United States’ worst environmental catastrophes.
  • On April 1, 2015, an oil platform in the Gulf of Mexico experienced an incident that resulted in the explosion. The explosion was caused by a leak in a fuel line that had been corroded by microorganisms and sulfuric acid. More than 300 persons were evacuated, four people died and 16 individuals were injured. Three staff members were never found.

Why Are Oil And Gas Rig Operations So Dangerous?


There are an infinite number of safety concerns that may emerge while working on an oil or gas rig. Workers are frequently required to work 12 hours a day on oil and gas rigs.

Heavy and hazardous equipment are everywhere, and the workers must constantly work in dangerous environments. Navigating around rigs is extremely hazardous due to the constant presence of perilous situations.

Oil and gas rig accidents have the ability to quickly become disastrous. The following are a few examples of frequent oil and gas drilling incidents:

  • Explosions resulting from liquids being ignited by sparks from equipment
  • Getting hit with swinging cables, pipes, or casing
  • Blowouts, fires, or explosions in production tanks
  • Feet or hands getting stuck in heavy equipment
  • Machinery failing as a result of defective or inadequate maintenance
  • Getting flattened by heavy equipment or cargo
  • Falling from high ladders, hoists, platforms, or stairways

Contact Texas Oilfield Injury Lawyers Today


If you or a loved one has been injured or killed while working in the oil and gas sector, Texas Personal Injury Lawyers will fight tirelessly for your rights. Workers’ compensation benefits must be provided to those who are injured on the rig.

The employee may also file a claim against the employer if it is found that the employer placed the employee in danger and caused significant harm or death. If the accident was caused by defective equipment, the employee can also seek compensation from any responsible third parties.

Texas Oilfield Injury Lawyers assist victims in recovering compensation for pain and suffering, medical expenses, treatment, wages lost due to the accident. If a family member died as a result of an oil or gas drilling incident, the survivors can sue for wrongful death. 

For a free consultation, contact Texas Personal Injury Lawyers to speak with one of our oil and gas rig accident lawyers.

Call us at (888) 997-2148 right away. We take cases on a contingency fee basis and there are no costs unless we win, and the consultation is completely free.