After the Deepwater Horizon explosion in 2010, worker safety on offshore oil and gas rigs temporarily became a hot topic across the United States. However, it didn’t take long for people to lose interest in this particular issue.
Now, just over a decade after that tragic incident, those who track offshore oil and gas safety want to draw public attention to major shortcomings in the current fatality reporting system. They believe that businesses have manipulated the public perception regarding workplace risks on offshore oil and gas facilities.
At first glance, those looking at offshore workplace fatality statistics might easily believe that it is a safe job with minimal risk. However, the official figures about deaths in the offshore oil and gas industry are far lower than what they should be.
What are the issues with oil and gas fatality reporting?
Currently, there are certain loopholes that allow businesses to avoid reporting worker fatalities and drawing attention to possibly unsafe work conditions. Businesses do have an obligation to report injuries that occur on the job, as well as fatalities. However, sometimes they benefit from reporting technicalities that lead to misleading safety statistics.
Offshore oil and gas businesses do not have to report worker deaths if they occur in state waters. As if that were not concerning enough, companies can also avoid reporting any worker fatality that occurs while in transit to an offshore facility.
The second loophole is particularly concerning because statistics make it clear that transportation to and from the offshore facilities remains one of the most dangerous elements of the job. Helicopter crashes and boat incidents can result in multiple fatalities or even lost workers whose bodies are never recovered.
Transportation can be an injury risk as well
Not every oil and gas worker who experiences a transportation incident will die. Some will just suffer significant injuries. Unfortunately, those workers injured while not on land will have a much more complicated process to follow when they need benefits related to their medical care or lost wages.
Understanding the systems in place to protect maritime workers can help you if you get hurt while working in an offshore job or if you lose a loved one to a workplace tragedy.