The Dangers of Working on an Oil Rig

Living and working on an oil rig is extremely challenging. The rig needs to be maintained 24 hours a day, which leads to most workers putting in long shifts every day for weeks at a time. While the pay can be exceptional, and the living conditions are sometimes pretty nice, working conditions are harrowing even in the best situations.

When the worst situations occur, working conditions go from harrowing to dangerous. Injuries are common on an oil rig, which may require a quick helicopter ride to a far away emergency room if they are bad enough. If you are considering working on an oil rig, you should be aware of the following dangers.

Think about how tired you are after working an eight-hour day in the office. Now, try to imagine how tired an oil rig worker feels after working a 12-hour or longer day doing manual labor. All of this work is outside, regardless of the weather. Some days, they are working under a blistering sun in sweltering heat, and other days, they are pounded with rain all day.

All of this exhausts workers, especially when they work every day for multiple weeks. Similar to the reason that many truck accidents occur, tired workers make mistakes. Mistakes made when working with heavy machinery or on unstable ground can easily result in serious injuries.

Heavy Machinery

In many ways, oil rigs are basically just giant construction sites. They have drills, cranes, forklifts, power tools, and every other hazard you would expect to see at a construction site. Unsurprisingly, the same things that cause construction accidents cause accidents on oil rigs.

OSHA guidelines are supposed to protect workers from these dangers by mandating things like personal protective gear and extensive training in the use of heavy machinery. Unfortunately, these guidelines only provide limited protection.

Things happen quickly on an oil rig, which means heavy machinery has to be used quickly. This can result in serious injuries if someone operating heavy machinery isn’t paying close attention to their surroundings.


Oil rigs are built in the ocean, mostly of steel. They constantly sway due to the sea and the wind. Most of the flooring is damp at all times. This is not conducive to a safe working environment.

There are strict federal safety standards designed to protect workers from slip and fall injuries. Unfortunately, even these fail. Workers may ignore these protocols because they are in a hurry or equipment may fail. Whatever the reason, workers often fall from heights on oil rigs, landing either on a lower level or in the sea. Both landings can be fatal. About 7% of oil rig fatalities result from falls.

There is also a second danger in this category. Unsecured tools or equipment can fall from a height and strike someone beneath. Even if they are wearing a helmet, heavy enough equipment can cause significant, potentially fatal, injuries.

Multiple Factors Combine To Make Working on an Oil Rig Dangerous

Between long hours, tumultuous seas, and a lot of heavy equipment, working on an oil rig is a dangerous profession. The pay and benefits can be quite exceptional, but it may not be worth the danger you are putting yourself in. 

If you choose to join this profession, you should be aware of the many dangers around you and follow safety procedures rigorously to ensure you remain as safe as possible.

If you’ve been injured in a workplace accident, please contact Marzzacco Niven & Associates at the nearest location to schedule a free consultation today:

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