Oil spills, explosions and other extraction-related incidents often dominate public awareness about the safety risks to oil and gas workers at offshore extraction facilities. Oil rigs come with all kinds of unique issues for visitors and residents.
There is the ever-present potential for fire or an explosion, coupled with being a distance from shore that can make it harder for emergency services to reach the oil rig quickly. However, those traumatic incidents aren’t the leading cause of risk for offshore oil workers.
Just like oil and gas workers who operate on land, offshore oil workers have their most significant job risk because of transportation. A tragic incident with a capsized boat off the shore of Louisiana serves as a heartbreaking reminder of how dangerous it can be for offshore workers to get to their place of employment.
A transport vessel capsized with more than a dozen people on board
On Tuesday, April 13, 2021 a commercial boat trying to travel through choppy waters and heavy wind capsized. There were 19 people on the boat at the time of the incident.
Six people on the craft were rescued on Tuesday. Responders recovered the body of one deceased individual on Wednesday. More than two days after the vessel capsized, there are still 12 people missing.
The Coast Guard and others will continue to make attempts to rescue those workers, which will hopefully prove successful. Capsized vessels thankfully offer more opportunities for survival than rapidly sinking ships. Air pockets, preserved supplies and the buoyancy of the vessel may allow people to survive in or on the capsized vessel for hours or even multiple days.
Workers hurt on open water have different rights
The six individuals already rescued may find themselves dealing with medical consequences from the incident or even trauma that affects their mental health. There is at least one family that will have to adjust to the loss of a loved one after this unfortunate incident.
If the incident had occurred on land, the rescued individuals and surviving family members could make a straightforward workers compensation claim. However, when an incident occurs offshore, the people involved have different rights.
Under the Jones Act, workers hurt in an offshore location may be able to pursue compensation from their employer. Such claims often require more help than a workers’ compensation claim because they are far more complex.