• Oil Rig Fatality Rates Lead to Improved Technology

    Oil Rig in the Gulf of Mexico

    An oil rig somewhere in the Gulf of Mexico.

    On April 20, 2010, 11 workers were killed in the Deepwater Horizon oil rig explosion, which also sent millions of gallons of oil into the Gulf of Mexico.

    Following this disastrous event, the US Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) decided to determine how dangerous offshore drilling actually is.

    The results are pretty staggering.

    The report examined fatalities in offshore oil and gas operations that occurred between the years of 2003 and 2010. During this time, 128 fatalities were reported, which amounts to roughly 16 deaths per year. That might not seem like much, but collectively these numbers rate seven times higher than for all other US workers.

    According to the CDC:

    • All of those killed on offshore rigs were men
    • The average age of those killed was 41.4 years old
    • 79% of the deceased were non-Hispanic white males
    • All but one fatality occurred in the Gulf of Mexico

    As for the main cause of deaths, a chart from the CDC illustrates that leading causes of fatalities can be attributed to transportation accidents, more specifically helicopter crashes during poor weather conditions:

    Event Number of fatalities Percentage (%)
    Transportation event 65 50.8
    Aircraft events (all involved helicopters) 49 38.3
    Water vehicle events 16 12.5
    Contact with objects and equipment 21 16.4
    Fires and explosions 17 13.3
    Exposure to harmful substances/environments 16 12.5
    Total 128 100

    It is interesting to note, however, that between the end of 2009 and the end of 2012 there were no weather-related fatal helicopter crashes.

    That’s because near the end of 2009, the Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast (ADS-B) technology was implemented in aircrafts and air traffic control stations that offer transportation to off shore rigs.

    ADS-B was developed by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAAA) and oil and gas industry and aircraft operators in the Gulf of Mexico. The new technology offers better flight tracking, improved communication capabilities, and enhanced weather information, as well as terrain and traffic updates, which means safer ways to transport workers and tools.

    So how does this impact you? Workplace Safety Pocket Guides

    Maintaining compliance with state and federal regulations isn’t just to avoid a hefty fine. These regulations are aimed at making your workplace as safe as possible for your workers. After all, an employee who feels safe will come to work with a better attitude and be more productive. Be sure to supply your workers with all the personal protective equipment they need, as well as offer adequate training materials to ensure they know how to protect themselves in any situation.

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