Oil-Related Hazards & Injuries On The Water

Oil platform on the ocean. Offshore drilling for gas and petroleum or crude oil. Industrial

The prevalence of oil in many maritime industries makes it a nearly constant danger for workers in any field.

Oil rigs and drilling platforms obviously pose the greatest risk of exposure to oil and oil spills, but the risk can affect vehicles and other industrial installations on the water all the same, due to the prevalence of oil in most modern machinery. This oil is used in everyday functions of the vessel, from the motor of the vessel itself to the heavy equipment used on board, and even standard operation of the vessel can increase the risk of exposure to oil if the right precautions aren’t taken.

If this machinery and equipment is not properly maintained and correctly used, it can pose not only a risk to the environment as a whole, but also create unnecessary dangers for the ship’s crew. These dangers can, more often than not, result in injury or death – the Department of the Interior estimates that 23% of all injuries in the oil and gas industry stem from the slip and fall hazards created by spilled oil on decks – or worse, during a major leak incident.

Common Causes of Oil Hazards On Ships

Oil hazards can stem from a number of sources, all of them very common sights aboard vessels of nearly any size, for any purpose. Some of the more common causes include:

  • Improperly maintained pumps, leading to a buildup of oil on the floor or on other nearby surfaces
  • Poorly maintained pipes and fittings, causing leaks to happen faster and more violently 
  • Hydraulic system failure due to lack of maintenance, leaking oil and other fluids into high-traffic areas
  • Damaged grease recovery units, preventing efficient clean-up and leaving oil in areas where work needs to be performed
  • Poorly maintained pump trucks, increasing the risk of leak or failure
  • General leaking due to daily use

Each of these causes can generally be traced back to one common source: a lack of maintenance on behalf of the ship’s owner. If proper steps to maintain, repair, or replace these tools and parts are not completed as needed, the ship can become a more hazardous environment for everybody onboard.

Common Injuries from Oil Hazards

Most injuries caused by spilled oil (or other industrial fluids) take the form of slip and fall injuries. Slip and fall injuries are among the most common causes of lost time and personal injury on worksites, and whether you work on a vessel, an oil platform, or even a dry dock, the maritime industry is no exception.

A few of the most common injuries and specific damages suffered from these hazards include:

  • Broken bones
  • Fractured hips
  • Head injuries
  • Memory loss (from closed-head injuries)
  • Risk of limb loss
  • Nausea or vertigo

Any of these symptoms can lead to a loss of income and a decline in a quality of life – and the presence of oil and other industrial chemicals can make them even worse in the long run.

What Can I Do If I Have Been Injured By An Oil Spill Or Leak?

If you’ve suffered an injury because of leaking oil or other fluids while working on the water, O’Bryan Law can help. After seeking immediate medical treatment for your injury, contact O’Bryan Law to start reviewing the details of your case, and working towards justice and compensation for you and your family.

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