Workplace Dangers For Oil Field Workers

Oil field workers often work with dangerous, heavy equipment. Fires and explosions are a constant danger due to the explosive nature of vapors, chemicals, and other materials. Roustabouts and roughnecks may be required to climb onto elevated equipment, including derricks and masts. They need personal fall protection equipment and safety training to avoid serious injuries.

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The recent oil rig fire that burned for 16 days brings to mind the real risk of explosions that oil field workers face. The flammable crude oil and combustible gas extracted and transported on an oil rig make it an especially dangerous workplace. The rigs’ electrical equipment and flammable materials can cause fires on the worksite. The resulting explosions can damage structures and kill or injure workers.

Injuries that can occur include burns, traumatic brain injuries, loss of limbs, and disfigurement. Whenever an oilfield worker receives a blow to the head, they risk developing a TBI. A severe body hit may cause enough head shaking to cause brain injury—many workers who fall or are injured by an object experience a TBI. A brain injury lawyer can help injured workers seek compensation for their losses.

Falling Objects

Workers in the oilfield must maneuver around heavy machinery, high-pressure lines and hoses, overhead cranes, and other potentially hazardous objects. As a result, slip, trip, and fall hazards are common. These can be the source of severe injuries, including broken bones and traumatic brain injury. Working with flammable materials can also be very dangerous for oilfield workers. Fires, explosions, tools that drop from rigs and other incidents can cause burns, broken bones, spinal cord injuries and even wrongful death. Roughnecks and roustabouts may climb on elevated platforms or derricks, exposing them to falling objects. Injuries from these accidents can be catastrophic, leading to high medical bills and lost wages. 


Oilfield workers frequently work near combustible materials. Fires, explosions, and equipment failure put them at risk of burn injuries. They are also at risk of being pinned underneath or between pieces of heavy machinery. Injuries like broken bones are common, especially when rigs or trucks collide. Working in confined spaces makes them susceptible to accidents that can lead to poisoning from potential hazards such as Hydrogen Sulfide. Cancer, liver damage, and other major ailments are just a few health issues that chemical exposure can cause. Many of these toxins can be spread through contaminated air and water. Another frequent source of injury for oilfield employees is transportation-related mishaps, as they frequently travel in huge vehicles through perilous rural back roads. The dangers of these accidents can be increased by fatigue and drowsy driving.


Oilfield workers can be electrocuted from contact with energized power lines or equipment and when they touch worn wires. The most common injuries for oilfield workers include fractured bones, amputations, and severe burns. Many of these accidents are due to pressure to meet production quotas that tempt companies to cut corners on safety protocol. When these pressures lead to negligence, it’s easy for employees to be injured or even killed. Another danger is exposure to toxic chemicals, like hydrogen sulfide, which can collect in tight spaces with little ventilation. This gas, which has a distinctive rotten-egg smell, can be fatal to exposed workers. If your employer fails to provide proper respiratory protection, you may be able to file a lawsuit against them.

Drilling Equipment

Drilling equipment is extremely dangerous and prone to malfunction, causing fires or explosions. Oil and gas workers must wear flame-resistant clothing, carefully handle flammable chemicals, and know emergency safety procedures to protect themselves. Workers on the rig floor, such as roughnecks and roustabouts, face additional dangers. They may be exposed to dangerous gases like Hydrogen Sulfide. This gas can accumulate in areas with poor or no ventilation, poisoning workers and perhaps leading to asphyxiation. Because many of these workers commute long distances to and from their job sites, they are also at risk of serious injuries in vehicle accidents. It is particularly true if they are intoxicated or drugged, exhausted, or driving carelessly.